Andrea Camilleri

By Marco Tambara via Wikimedia Commons

We were saddened to hear of the death of Andrea Camilleri, aged 93, one of Italy’s best-loved authors. For so many readers he had brought Sicily to life, capturing the difficult social problems of the island with affection and humour.

In 2014 we posted on this blog a piece to celebrate his Montalbano series. Since then we have continued to acquire further works in the series, the most recent being: Continue reading

The moon in fact and fiction

As the 50th anniversary of men first setting foot on the moon is observed across the world, it is only right that this blog highlights some of the European moon-related items in our collections.

First is Sidereus nuncius by Galileo, dating from 1610. This groundbreaking work was the first publication to be based on observations using what was then a new instrument, the telescope. Indeed, Galileo had built his own telescope and what it revealed to him was an irregular surface. His descriptions of what he saw and his comparisons with Earth challenged the then standard belief, dating back to Aristotle, that the moon was smooth: Continue reading

Remo Giatti’s prints in the Cambridge Diane française, “Musée de Poche” collection

Giatti’s original print for Le livre et sa matière (2018)

In an earlier blog post, I talked about the artist books donation of the Diane française publisher “Musée de Poche” collection to Cambridge University Library. One of the works I discovered in this series is that of Remo Giatti, an artist form Northern Italy who uses a variety of techniques (engraving, lithography, drawing and collage…), and whose prints often include elements in “relief”. His work featured on the cover of the catalogue (F201.a.4.1), accompanied in the numbered Cambridge copy by an original print. Giatti also contributed to four “Musée de Poche” books (three of them are double volumes containing up to eight prints).

Le plus beau poème du monde est un poème d’amour (2014) by the Italian poet Arturo Schwarz, translated into French by Raphael Monticelli and inspired by Lucretius is a tribute to the beloved woman and her body through the elements. In this context, Giatti’s first and last prints evoke the stains of biological elements enlarged through a microscope, and the cracks forming on an arid soil in shades of grey. In the central double print, a grey shape with lines, strokes and cracks, pops up dramatically towards the viewer. It is set on top of another print which acts as a colourful brown and green background for the other one, reusing patterns of bubbles, stains and lines, and creating a strange effect of alignment and perspective from the top to the bottom print. Continue reading

Sorolla, Spanish master of light

The exhibition Sorolla: Spanish master of light (S950.a.201.6770) that inspired this post is coming to an end at the National Gallery (London) on 7 July, but will open at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin between 10 August and 3 November.

1_1113px-Joaquín_Sorolla_y_Bastida_-_Self_Portrait_-_Google_Art_Project

Self-portrait, 1904 (partial view. Via Wikimedia, click to see enlarged)

Although probably not known to the English-speaking educated public, Sorolla was the most internationally well-known Spanish artist of his time. A painter with a style close to impressionism, and without any doubt, a master at capturing light.

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923) was born in Valencia, the son of a tradesman, but became an orphan at a young age. Joaquín and his sister were taken under the care of their aunt and uncle, who was a locksmith. Sorolla showed an early interest in painting. He started taking drawing classes in 1874, later followed by studies at the Fine arts school in Valencia. With the support of the photographer Antonio García Peris (see S950.c.201.1204), his future father-in-law, he was able to set up his first studio. Continue reading

Polish archaeologists and Palmyra : the June 2019 Slavonic item of the month

The book’s cover, showing a digital reconstruction of the temple of Allat

In early 2016, a few months after the destruction of much of Palmyra, our former colleague Josh (now at UC Irvine) wrote about Palmyra and Henri Seyrig. A new arrival, unpacked this week and purchased at the request of a researcher in the Classics department, is a good reminder of the Polish contribution to Palmyra research.

The requested book, Palmyra by Michał Gawlikowski, was written in 2010.  It is only 131 pages long and well illustrated and provides a general introduction (in Polish) to what was then still a well-maintained site of great importance.  The book starts with a history of Polish involvement in the site, dating back to 1959 when Kazimierz Michałowski, the founder and head of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, set up an archaeological team there.  The Polish team at Palmyra was later led by Gawlikowski, from 1973, and suspended with the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011.  Palmyra ends with a bibliography, with many entries for Michałowski and Gawlikowski; some of those by the latter were co-written with Khaled al-Asaad, once chief archaeologist of Palmyra, who would be murdered by ISIS in 2015. Continue reading