Japanese history, arts and literature: cultural encounters in Cambridge University Library’s Francophone collections

Cambridge University Library is holding until the end of May Samurai, History & Legend, a fascinating and beautiful exhibition of Japanese manuscripts and (illustrated) printed texts and images. Cambridge UL holds one of the most important historic Japanese book collections in the UK. Although Japan is not at the core of the University Library French language collections, and we are constrained by budget limitations, over the years we have collected many Francophone publications on different aspects of Japanese history and culture. Here is a glimpse of some of the titles we have acquired.

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‘Allons enfants de la patrie’: Children and the Wars of 1870-71

As part of the Cambridge Festival 2022 programme, you can now book a place to attend a talk exploring the representations of French children during the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune. It will take place on Thursday 31 March from 5 to 6 pm in the Milstein room. We will be using literary and visual material from a historical collection of caricatures that will be on display at Cambridge University Library from 10 March to 7 May 2022.

Cambridge UL, KF.3.10

From September 1870 to May 1871, the siege of Paris by the Prussians was followed by a civil war which opposed the radical left-wing members of the Paris Commune to the more moderate Republicans leading the French government. The French military defeat, the hardships of life under prolonged sieges, and the political experiments of the Paris Commune –which ended in a massacre–, had a profound impact on the daily lives of Parisian people and especially children.

Cambridge UL, KF.3.10

Their perspective is reflected in the works of writers such as Alphonse Daudet and Guy de Maupassant. In Paris, this fuelled the production of a flurry of caricatures which circulated widely, often disseminated by the illustrated press. They portray children as victims of the war as well as privileged witnesses of the historical events unfolding around them. If children are often used as beacons of hope, torchbearers for the progressive aims of the Commune, they are also invested with the ideology of revenge against the Germans…

Cambridge UL, KF.3.12

This special event is hosted by Cambridge University Library, in partnership with the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics, and the Cambridge Alliance Française.

We are also delighted that a long awaited display of the Franco-Prussian caricatures, featuring, among others, Emperors Napoleon III and Wilhelm I, and Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, will take place from 10 March to 7 May 2022 in one of the Royal enclosures on the first floor of the University Library. Members of the University need to bring their blue card. External visitors can sign in and get a lanyard from the Reader Services Desk in the entrance hall, in order to come and see the small exhibition. If you cannot make it in person, here is a link to the virtual exhibition!

Irene Fabry-Tehranchi

“Black models” in visual culture and modern arts

The Mémorial ACTe (Centre caribéen d’expressions et de mémoire de la Traite et de l’Esclavage) in Guadeloupe is hosting until December 2019 a jointly curated exhibition previously held at the Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University in New York, Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today (October 2018 to February 2019, see C200.a.5469) and at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Le Modèle noir, de Géricault à Matisse (March to July 2019, see S950.b.201.5919). The Memorial to slavery, opened in 2015, which is also a cultural centre and museum, seems an appropriate venue for this exhibition, which focuses on “the representation of the black figure in the development of modern art”. Continue reading

For accompanying coin, enquire in Map Room : the July 2019 Slavonic item of the month

Last week, I decided to tackle a set about major exhibitions and exhibition spaces in Moscow which had been in the Slavonic cataloguing backlog for some time.  How hard a cataloguing challenge could it be?  4 volumes, 6 accompanying discs, 3 accompanying sheets, and 1 accompanying commemorative coin later, I can confirm that the answer was – very.

The coin, front and back.

Cambridge’s copy of VSKhV–VDNKh–VVT︠S︡ is, according to Library Hub (the very new replacement for COPAC), the only one held in the country, which is unsurprising given that it was published in a small run not for general sale.  The set was produced to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Moscow’s extraordinary exhibition complex, in 2009, although the UL was only able to obtain a copy years later.

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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