Library Collectors’ Council 2011 Acquisitions
The Library Collectors' Council is a group of major donors who help direct the growth of the collections through active involvement in the acquisition process.
HUNTINGTON'S LATEST LIBRARY ACQUISITIONS DEMONSTRATE VAST RANGE OF HOLDINGS
A 17th-century attack on Galileo and a set of gouache studies for the iconic mosaic murals for Home Savings and Loan are among the purchases by the Library Collectors’ Council at its 14th annual meeting
The Library Collectors’ Council at The Huntington acquired five new items for the collections recently, including an important 16th-century work attacking Galileo’s famous—and controversial—contention that the earth revolved around the sun. The acquisition adds further strength to The Huntington as a center for the study of the history of science.
Breadth and depth are the hallmark of the latest acquisitions following the 14th annual meeting of the Collectors’ Council last month. The items cover a range of geographic regions and academic disciplines—from the anti-Galileo tract to a 19th-century diary about maritime exploration in the Pacific.
The Collectors’ Council is a group of 34 member families who help support acquisitions. It was formed to augment the collections by helping to purchase materials that the institution otherwise couldn’t afford. “Regardless of the format—a book, a diary, a manuscript collection, and two highly visual items on garden design and public art—these few items add incredible nuance to our existing collections,” says David Zeidberg, Avery Director of the Library.
The Opening Gun in the Campaign Against Galileo’s Dialogo
The first item purchased by the council is Claudio Bérigard’s Doubts on the “Dialogue” of Galileo (Dubitationes in dialogum Galilaei Galilaei), considered to be the opening salvo in the attack on Galileo Galilei’s famous work that dared to proclaim that the earth revolved around the sun. In 1632, Galileo posited his theory in the form of a conversation among three characters who debated the nature of the heavens. His book—Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (Dialogo di due massimi systemi del mondo)—clearly favored the Copernican view of the sun and the earth and quickly came to the attention of the Church.
Claudio Bérigard, Doubts on the “Dialogue” of Galileo (Dubitationes in dialogum Galilaei Galilaei), (Florence, Petri Nesti, 1632).
“Galileo published the Dialogo in Florence in February 1632,” says Daniel Lewis, the Dibner Senior Curator of the History of Science and Technology and the chief curator of manuscripts at The Huntington. “Bérigard responded quickly, writing his refutation in Pisa on June 1, 1632.” Bérigard’s Doubts on the “Dialogue” is the first and only edition of an understudied treatise. Less than two months after the appearance of Bérigard’s tract, sales of the Dialogo were suspended and copies were confiscated; Galileo was summoned to Rome in October of that year and eventually sentenced to a life-time house arrest.
While The Huntington has the first edition and many later editions of Galileo’s Dialogo, only six copies of Bérigard’s book are known to exist in other institutions. “The Huntington’s holdings on Galileo are some of the most extensive in America,” says Zeidberg. “Bérigard’s response gives important context to the times and culture in which Galileo lived.”
Nineteenth-Century Americana—A Pacific Journey and a Polymath’s Papers
Two items related to 19th-century American history—one a maritime diary, the other a voluminous manuscript collection—bring greater depth to the Library’s existing holdings in several areas, including maritime history and the 19th-centry era of Reconstruction and Industrialization.
George Clymer Jr., Manuscript account of California and the western coast of South America written during his service aboard the USS Cyane with the Pacific Squadron, 1842.
In 1842, Dr. George Clymer, a surgeon, wrote a 92-page account of his tour aboard the USS Cyane with the Pacific Squadron. At the time, the United States had a robust commercial and military presence in the Pacific Ocean. Thus the vessel’s voyage reflected the continuing expansion of the burgeoning republic’s political and economic interests across the globe.
“Clymer’s account illuminates both the Navy’s role as an agent of that expansion and his own lively curiosity about the exotic settings he encountered during this voyage,” says Peter Blodgett, the H. Russell Smith Foundation Curator of Western Historical Manuscripts at The Huntington.
The other new acquisition of 19th-century Americana is the manuscript collection of Charlton Thomas Lewis (1834–1904), a true American polymath—Methodist preacher, mathematician, classical scholar, lawyer, journalist, writer, and social reformer. Consisting of approximately 1,260 items (4,500 pages) as well as 200 pieces of ephemera, the collection covers the turn of the 18th century through 1915, with the bulk of it focused on the period from 1850 to 1884.
“This extensive collection duly reflects the many sides of Lewis’ remarkable life,” Says Olga Tsapina, the Norris Foundation Curator of American Historical Manuscripts at The Huntington. “It touches on an astonishing variety of subjects—from the religious revivals of the antebellum era to prison reform.” Lewis served as the counsel to the Mutual Life Insurance Co.; as managing editor of William Cullen Bryant’s Evening Post; and as scholar and author of works such as Harper’s Latin Dictionary, which remained the standard text until the publication of the Oxford Latin Dictionary nearly a century later. He also served as chairman of the executive committee and president of the Prison Association of New York, the famous advocacy society (est. 1844) that fought the widespread abuses of the emerging prison industry.
The Papers of Charlton Thomas Lewis (1834–1904).
Also included are letters with his extended family, including his younger brother, Enoch Edward Lewis, a Civil War officer. There are also letters by Henry Adams, William Cullen Bryant, Salmon P. Chase, James Russell Lowell, Thomas Nast, Francis Lieber, and many other prominent figures of the era.
British Garden Design and Public Art Murals in Southern California
Also purchased were two highly visual works, a reminder that Library acquisitions are not restricted to printed or hand-written text. The first work is a manuscript proposal by Lewis Kennedy (1789–1877) for the development of landscape gardens in Cornwall, England. The 12 pages of hand-written text are complemented with eight original watercolor paintings and five pen-and-wash vignettes. The whole work is bound in a green morocco-gilt presentation album.
Lewis Kennedy, “View from the flower-gardens of the park and distant scenery,” watercolor from a manuscript proposal for the development of landscape gardens at Trebartha Hall, in Cornwall, England, 1815, which includes eight large original watercolors and five pen-and-wash vignettes.
“The album was part business prospectus, part garden blueprint, part theoretical manifesto, part artistic portfolio, and all status symbol,” says Mary Robertson, the William A. Moffett Curator of English Historical Manuscripts.
The history and development of the English landscape garden has long been a major topic of interest for the Huntington Library. The album provides potential for research in English garden history, in the changing aesthetic sense of the 18th and early 19th centuries, in the growing importance of commercial horticulture and the expansion of an international botanical trade, in the professionalization of landscape architects, and in the continuing role of the aristocracy as cultural patrons.
The final purchase—a group of 15 gouache designs—represents plans for a commission that took place 250 years later in Southern California: the installation of mosaic murals at Home Savings and Loan buildings throughout Southern California. The artist, Susan Hertel (1930–1993), went to work for Millard Sheets Designs, Inc. in 1954, when she was still a young art student at Scripps College. Sheets, in turn, was a prominent Claremont mosaic artist and educator. Just a year earlier, Howard Ahmanson, founder of Home Savings and Loan, had hired Sheets to design his company’s insignia, buildings, and exterior and interior art.
After Sheets himself, Hertel was the primary designer of mosaics and worked closely with Denis O’Connor (1933–2007), an English artist and graduate of the Royal College of Art in London in 1956, who joined Sheets’ company in 1960. Together Hertel and O’Connor produced 80 Home Savings mosaics for Sheets and another 50 or so after 1983, when Sheets left the business and Denis O’Connor Mosaics continued work in California and throughout the country for Home Savings of America.
Susan Hertel (1930–1993), Design for the mosaic mural of Home Savings and Loan building in Temple City, Calif., 1984, from a group of 15 gouache designs.
The 15 gouache designs comprise a critical aspect of the tedious and time-consuming process of mosaic installation. After creating preliminary sketches, Hertel would produce the final proposed design in the form of a color gouache, which would then be projected in the form of a slide onto a large paper sheet on which a full-scale drawing would be made. A complicated process followed, leading to a large mural made of small pieces of glass. Sheets, Hertel, and O’Connor played a major role in reviving mosaic art in America. The Huntington already has the papers of Denis O’Connor. The Hertel gouache designs will add to that extensive archive of photographs, business records, research notes, books, and preliminary designs documents the art and craft of the mosaic process.
The Huntington welcomes inquiries from those who would like to
participate in shaping the Library’s collections through new
acquisitions. For information about joining the Library Collectors’ Council contact Avery Director of the Library,
David Zeidberg, 626-405-2176.