Among the collections in our Library sits a bound volume of tracts (Press B.4.16) by John Milton (1608-1674) with an interesting history. The title-page of the first tract in the volume, ‘Of reformation touching church-discipline in England …’ is complete with a dedication in Milton’s hand to Patrick Young (1584-1652).
Milton’s title-page dedication to Patrick Young and the inscription ‘Stamford 1693’
The inscription can be reconstructed as –
‘Ad doctissim[um] virum Patri[cium] Junium Joann[es] Miltonius hæc / sua, unum in f[asci]culum conjecta / mittit, paucis h[u]/jusmodi lectori[bus]/ contentus.’/
‘To the most learned man Patrick Young John Milton sends these his things, gathered together in one little volume, satisfying himself with but few readers of this kind.’*
The Irish sculptor Oliver Sheppard’s Sleeping Nymph (1918) has been on display in the Long Room since September, as part of the exhibition ‘Writing Art in Ireland, 1890–1930’. Drawn from Trinity College Dublin’s own art collections, Sheppard’s small marble relief is something of a sculpture within a sculpture. The main subject is a female nude lying sleeping. But carved in the right-hand corner is a barely discernible cherub or infant. Like the sculptor’s Roisin Dubh memorial to the poet James Clarence Mangan in Stephen’s Green, a smaller figure incorporated into the piece can be read as some form of ambiguous symbol or allegory relating to the primary subject.
Such suggestive works not only sometimes drew on literary sources but also provoked several notable literary responses. Sheppard’s early statuette Oisin and Niamh (1895) was inspired by W.B. Yeats’s The Wanderings of Oisin (1889), a fact that greatly pleased the poet. His later bronze statue The Death of Cuchulain – itself drawn from Lady Gregory’s portrayal of the hero in Cuchulainn of Muirthelmne (1902) – in turn became the subject of several poems by Yeats, following its erection in the General Post Office in 1935 to commemorate the Easter Rising. Less reverentially, Samuel Beckett’s novel Murphy (1938) describes how a character was moved to seize ‘the dying hero by the thighs’ and ‘dash his head against his buttocks, such as they are’.
Presented alongside Sleeping Nymph in the exhibition is a quixotic response to Sheppard’s work by Patrick Pearse, printed in the Gaelic League newspaper An Claidheamh Soluis (The Sword of Light) in 1906. The revolutionary, sacrificial message of Pearse’s appraisal seems clear. Of one statuette of a mother and child, he asserts: ‘his heart will not falter, he will fight the fight – win it, maybe, or failing gloriously, go serenely to his death. And the Woman of Destiny will wait and watch on.’ As such visual artworks enter into language, their meanings become interpreted and contested. Indeed during the lead up to last year’s centenary commemorations a 1916 Relatives Association urged Dublin City Council to rename the The Spire monument on O’Connell Street An Claidheamh Soluis. Like the symbolist sculpture of Oliver Sheppard, even the austerely abstract Spire sitting opposite the G.P.O. will have its significance written and rewritten.
Jack Quin is a Research Assistant in the School of English, working on the Irish Research Council-funded project ‘W.B. Yeats and the Writing of Art’.
The Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections will close at 5pm today (Thursday 22nd December 2016) and reopen at 10am on Tuesday 3rd January 2017. We wish all our readers a very pleasant break and a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.
This image is from v.3 of Elizabeth Blackwell’s Herbal, shelfmark Fag.GG.3.7 – see more about this 5-volume set in a previous post.
This poster for Thomas Bodkin’s book Hugh Lane and his pictures (1932) is included in the exhibition ‘Writing Art in Ireland, 1890–1930’, currently on display in the Long Room. The advert reproduces William Orpen’s Homage to Manet (1909), a group portrait of the novelist George Moore reading from his pamphlet Reminiscences of the Impressionist Painters (1906) to an audience in London made up of the collector Hugh Lane, the painters Philip Wilson Steer, Walter Sickert and Henry Tonks, and D.S. MacColl, the Keeper of the Tate Gallery. Above them hangs Édouard Manet’s painting of another impressionist painter Eva Gonzales. Continue reading →
Do you remember Dr Barrett from my post about Anne Plumptre’s Narrative of a residence in Ireland? The idea for that post arose when I saw his note that the book was “too silly & too ill mannered for a public library” but when I was researching it, the more I read about Dr Barrett, the more I felt he deserved a post of his own.
Winnie-the-Pooh, the storybook by A. A. Milne about the eponymous, much-loved teddy bear and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood, first appeared in hardback on 14th October 1926. The bear himself, although at that stage unnamed, had made his debut in the 13th February 1924 issue of Punch, in a poem which was included later that year in the collection When we were very Young.
Following on from our blog post on 29th September about the new ‘Writing Art in Ireland’ exhibition which is on display in the Long Room of the Old Library, we are delighted to announce that the online version of this exhibition is now available to be viewed here.
AE: ‘Jack B. Yeats’, in “The Book-Lover’s Magazine” v.8 (1908). Shelfmark: 65.a.71
Cecil Salkeld: ‘The principles of painting’, in “To-morrow”, August 1924. Shelfmark: 202.u.1 no.1A
‘Documents et particularités historiques …’ Shelfmark: Gall.6.i.39
Bibliophile Renier Hubert Ghislain Chalon was born in Mons, Belgium in 1802. A keen numismatist, his interests clearly extended beyond books and coins as he was also the instigator of the Fortsas Bibliohoax, one of the greatest pranks in the world of book-dealing. His hoax was a thing of beauty. Continue reading →
At the beginning of term, a student, Catherine Costello, presented us with a copy of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of pure reason, translated by J. M. D. Meiklejohn and published in London in 1887. Although we are always happy to consider donations when they are offered, we are not always in a position to take them. However, the connection with Trinity meant that there was no hesitation over accepting this one. Continue reading →
A new exhibition has opened in the Old Library, Trinity College Dublin. ‘Writing Art in Ireland, c.1890–1930’ explores the ways in which the visual arts were written about during a period that saw a surge in cultural activity take place against a backdrop of tumultuous constitutional change. From Margaret Stokes’s emphasis on the aesthetic value of medieval Irish artefacts in Early Christian art in Ireland (1887) through to Mainie Jellett’s defence of abstract painting in the magazine Motley in 1932, the exhibition also serves as a celebration of the wealth of material relating to the visual arts held in the Library.
Page from Margaret Stokes, “Early Christian art in Ireland” (1887) containing reproduction of an initial from the Book of Kells.
The texts and images displayed highlight how commentators looked to the achievements of the past as well as to continental innovations in debating how best to forge a distinctly modern national artistic identity. Also outlined are the links between the visual arts and the emerging Irish state, as vigorous discussion took place around the role art should play in the economy, in educational institutions, and in the Church.
The exhibition was prepared by Dr Tom Walker, with assistance from Jack Quin, from the School of English, TCD, as part of the Irish Research Council New Horizons research project ‘W.B. Yeats and The Writing of Art’. It will be on view in the Long Room until January 2017.