Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Must See Bookish Exhibit in Boston at the Gardner: Illuminating the Serenissima: Books of the Republic of Venice

Commissione of Doge Francesco Donato to Vincenzo Gritti as Lieutenant of Udine, 1546. leone andante, St. Vincent Ferrer, Latin inscription reading ‘I Francesco Donato, by the grace of God, Doge of Venice, etc’, putti raising the Gritti family arms, antique armor and trophies. Paint and gold paint on vellum, height 24 cm by width 17 cm by depth 4 cm (closed).

Visits to rare book rooms at libraries, browsing the displays at book fairs and tours of museum exhibits of rare books are some of my favorite activities.  I was thrilled to learn if this all too brief exhibit of 7 rare books, complete books, in their original bindings to be on display at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, May 3-June 19, 2011, Illuminating the Serenissima:  Books of the Republic of Venice.  The seven books on display are truly one of a kind books created via commission to honor the election/appointment of the Doge, the ruler of Venice. 

The books, called, commissioni, were commissioned by the newly elected noble who would rule the Venetian Republic for a period of 16 months or to serve as lifelong administrators of the city of Venice.  The commissioni were lavishly illustrated and represent a unique class of book, the Venetian Book.  There are very few surviving complete examples of commissioni as most have been parted out for page by page profit. 

I'll report more on these once I visit the Museum, for now, only a head's up to all in or close to Boston, get thee to the Gardner! 

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