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September 29 – December 18, 2021,
New York, September 29, 2021- The Grolier Club is proud to shine a spotlight on the impressive holdings of New York’s Hispanic Society & Library in the exhibition TREASURES FROM THE HISPANIC SOCIETY LIBRARY. On view from September 29 – December 18, 2021, the presentation is open to visitors in person as well as virtually.
Drawing on the unparalleled collections 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 Tesoros de España, an exhibition held at the New York Public Library in 1985. However, Treasures from the Hispanic Society Library will offer greater diversity by including Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American material amassed by the 20th century bibliophile Archer M. Huntington, founder of the Hispanic Society, and selected by curators Mitchell A. Codding and John O’Neill.
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 Age of Exploration will be documented with navigational charts and manuals, while Nahuatl and bilingual manuscripts (pictographs with glosses in Spanish) will 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.
In a series of four lectures to be held during the run of the exhibition, speakers will offer insights into specific aspects of the Society’s holdings:
October 6 – John O’Neill, Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books at the Hispanic Society, will discuss Archer M. Huntington, founder of the Hispanic Society, as a book collector. A major figure in the field of book collecting in the United States, Huntington has remained virtually unknown to many bibliophiles, a result of his desire to stay out of the public eye.
October 13 – Vanessa Pintado, Assistant Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books at the Hispanic Society, will speak about La Celestina, a novel in dialogue form that is considered the masterpiece of Spanish medieval literature. The plot revolves around two young lovers, Calisto and Melibea, whose trysts are arranged by an old procuress, Celestina. The unique 1499 copy held by the Hispanic Society is the earliest known printed edition whose provenance is an interesting story in and of itself. This lecture will be given in Spanish.
November 3 – Patrick Lenaghan, Head Curator of Prints, Photographs and Sculpture, will speak on the illustrated editions of Cervantes’s Don Quixote de la Mancha. Without doubt the best-known character from all of Spanish literature, Dr. Lenaghan will discuss how the portrayal of Don Quixote has evolved from its publication in 1605 to the modern era.
November 18 – Frank Trujillo, Drue Heinz Book Conservator at The Morgan Library & Museum, will speak about the Hispanic Society’s “Black Book of Hours”, an extremely rare example of an illuminated book of prayers written on black parchment that dates from ca. 1458. Mr. Trujillo will give an overview of recent scholarship and discuss an on-going research project that is focused on the Hispanic Society’s and the Morgan Library’s examples of this type of manuscript.
A day-long Symposium to be held on October 26:
The morning speakers will focus on aspects of the Hispanic Society’s collections that sometimes do not get as much attention as the “treasures.” Grolier Club member Dr. Szilvia Szmuk-Tanenbaum will speak about the Society’s collection of comedias sueltas, cheaply produced works for the theatre that were enormously popular from the 17th to the mid-19th century.
Prof. Amanda Wunder of Lehman College/Graduate Center CUNY will speak on fashion in the cartas de ejecutoria (letters patent of gentility). Although of interest primarily to researchers in genealogy, these manuscripts, often illustrated with portraits of the petitioner’s family, offer an insight into the fashion of the period.
Due to its extensive manuscript collection from the 14th through the 19th century, researchers do not often consider the 20th-century manuscript holdings of the Society. These are mostly correspondence archives that have been catalogued and studied by Prof. Alison Maginn of Monmouth University, New Jersey. The varied list of authors ranges from the Nicaraguan poet, Rubén Darío to Juan Andrade, one of the founder members of the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM).
The afternoon speakers will focus on two aspects of the collections that are represented in the exhibition. Patrick Lenaghan will speak on the print collection of the Society in general which comprises over 15,000 prints that afford a unique glimpse of the graphic arts in Spain from the 17th century to the present.
Mitchell Codding, director of the Hispanic Society from 1995 until his retirement in 2019, will discuss the Society’s collection of over forty portolan charts and atlases, or manuscript sailing charts, dating from the 15th through 18th centuries, which is one of the finest in the Americas. The collection contains Juan Vespucci’s famous 1526 map of the world, one of the largest manuscript portolan charts in existence.
VISITING THE GROLIER CLUB
47 East 60th Street, New York, NY 10022
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm, with the exception of holiday closures
Admission: Exhibitions are open to the public free of charge
For further information please contact:
Susan Flamm, Public Relations Consultant to the Grolier Club
Cell: 646-269-5073, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Sheehan, Exhibitions and Communications Manager
212-838-6690 x 2, email@example.com