Karl Friedrich Schinkel: more than Berlin’s architect

Birch and cane dining chair, 1825, in the Kunstgewerbemuseum, my own photo

Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841) was a pre-eminent contributor to the 19th century planning of the city of Berlin, and several of the imposing buildings that he designed can still be admired today in the centre of the city – for instance, the Konzerthaus, the Neue Wache and the Altes Museum. It is now 200 years since he started work on his plans for this museum, the first of several to make up the Museum Island complex. Like many, I knew of him as an architect so I was surprised when I saw a simple chair, perhaps designed by him, during a pre-pandemic visit to Berlin’s splendid Kunstgewerbemuseum. This inspired me to look beyond his architecture and so this blog post will explore non-architectural aspects of his work and feature items from the University Library’s collections. Continue reading

Wenceslaus Hollar, a prolific printmaker

In the week leading up to the coronation of King Charles III we look back more than 350 years to the coronation of Charles II, celebrated in John Ogilby’s 1662 The entertainment of his most excellent majestie Charles II, in his passage through the city of London to his coronation. Etchings of the royal cavalcade and of the ceremony in Westminster Abbey were provided by Wenceslaus Hollar. Click on the images below to see larger versions:

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A new exhibition of 1870-71 caricatures at Cambridge Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics library 

A few weeks ago, we opened a new exhibition in the Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics library, relating to a collection of 1870-71 caricatures held in the University Library. This project was highly collaborative, involving librarians, academic staff and students. It followed an exhibition held at the UL last year and started with translations of the text and legends of French caricatures into English.

Poster for the MMLL caricatures exhibition

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Artists’ books from Cuba

The Latin American and Iberian Collections team has recently acquired a small but utterly compelling collection of books published by Ediciones Vigía. These are beautiful and hugely imaginative hand-made artist books created in Matanzas, Cuba. Although in nature very different to the Cartonera collection we have built over the years, Vigía books also help us ask questions about the possibilities of creating and disseminating art and literature in a context of material scarcity.  

Ediciones Vigía was founded by the poet Alfredo Zaldívar and the artist Rolando Estévez in 1985 but did not originally start as a publisher: it began as a cultural association organizing events for the local community to learn about Cuban and international authors. They would produce invitations for such events held in the then named Casa del Escritor (The Author’s House) in the Plaza de la Vigía square in Matanzas.  

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The Schnitzler collection of Jeffrey B. Berlin

Portrait of Schnitzler in F191.b.1.3

In August 2022 we were privileged to receive seven boxes containing several hundred volumes of works by the famous Austrian author Arthur Schnitzler. The books come from the library of the late Professor Jeffrey B. Berlin and were generously offered as a gift to the University Library by his widow, Anne Berlin. We happily accepted the offer as this comprehensive collection of the printed works of Arthur Schnitzler complements our existing renowned collection of Schnitzler manuscripts.

Professor Berlin, who died in 2021, was a highly respected Germanist with a particular interest in the literature of fin de siècle Vienna. He is best known for the extensive edition of Stefan Zweig’s correspondence (749:37.d.95.126-129) published by S. Fischer 1995-2005. Prof. Berlin also published numerous papers on Arthur Schnitzler and was for many years a member of the editorial team of Modern Austrian Literature, the journal of International Arthur Schnitzler Research Association. He was responsible for the annual Schnitzler bibliography published in this journal which inspired him to assemble his collection of Schnitzler’s published works. Continue reading