Treasures from the Library of The Hispanic Society of America

Drawing on the unparalleled collection in the Hispanic Society, this exhibition of more than one hundred manuscripts and books will present an exceptional vision of the history and culture of Spain and the Americas. Many items will be new the public since much of this material has never been shown outside of the Hispanic Society. New York has not seen a major exhibition of Spanish manuscript and printed material since one held at the New York Public Library in 1985. Unlike that one, Treasures from the HSA will offer greater diversity by including Latin American authors. It also tells the story of one of the greatest bibliophiles of the twentieth century, Archer M. Huntington, founder of the Hispanic Society, whose passion for books and the Hispanic world led him to form one of the most important collections of this material in the world.

The manuscripts included attest to the breadth of the Hispanic Society’s collection in period, geography, and function. Broadly speaking, the history of Spain is featured in medieval charters, holograph royal letters, letters patent of nobility, manuscript Bibles, books of hours, as well as historical, scientific, and literary manuscripts. In particular, illuminated manuscripts, bindings and printed works will evoke the era of convivencia, the period in the late middle ages when Muslim, Christian, and Jewish peoples lived as neighbors in the Iberian Peninsula. The close ties to the Americas will appear in the sailing charts that document the increasing sphere of influence of Spain, as well as bilingual manuscripts (pictographs with glosses in Spanish) that show how indigenous and European traditions coexisted and influenced each other.

The printed material on view dates from the earliest works produced in Spain and the Americas through the early 19th century. Including almost every literary masterpiece from the period, these works document the rich cultural traditions of these lands. Among the works on view are first editions of Tirant lo Blanch (in Catalan, 1490), La Celestina (1499; unique copy), Lazarillo de Tormes (1554), Don Quijote de la Mancha (1605), and works by the Mexican poet, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (late 17th century) and the 17th-century criollo polymath, Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora. The exhibition will also feature the only known copy of the first book printed in Puerto Rico, Juan Rodríguez Calderón’s poetry collection, Ocios de la juventud, published in 1806

Venue: The Grolier Club | 47 East 60th Street, New York

Dates: September 28 – December 30, 2021