Exploring the Wilde bequest: offprints and beyond

Wilde offprints

Having this week completed a reorganization of fifteen boxes of offprints from the Johannes Wilde bequest; I thought I would write a few words on the material preserved within these boxes. This fragment of Wilde’s legacy collection, significant in size and content, is yet to be catalogued on the library’s OPAC, but can be searched by card index (see below). The main bequest of books and manuscripts, as well as his archive of teaching materials, is fully catalogued and kept in the library’s special collections – both can be consulted on filling in a CABS request form.

Wilde drawer

What began as a vast swathe of offprints has now been streamlined into a shipshape assemblage of just over 600 texts, most of which have personal inscriptions to Wilde. There is a broad scope of material chiefly published in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s, but going as far back as a volume Jahrbuch der Königlich preussischen Kunstsammlungen from 1893. Written in several languages (chiefly German but also English, French, Italian and Hungarian), it contains a lot of Wilde’s own writings, as well as a good amount on Michelangelo – as you might expect – Renaissance art, and architecture.

As well as official offprints from periodicals such as Oud Holland, The Burlington Magazine, the Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, and Athenaeum, the collection also contains some full issues of journals; festschrifts for scholars such as Julius Schlosser, Paul Clemen and Max Friedländer; and ephemeral items including business cards, compliment slips, newspaper and magazine clippings, and proofs.

Gerard Frankl

Most of the items are marked with Wilde’s distinctive handwriting, either denoting the author’s name at the top of the page (as above on a clipping from The Listener entitled ‘How Cézanne saw and used colour’ by Gerard Frankl), or with his notes or corrections alongside the text. There are also a great number of personal inscriptions written from the various authors, such as this affectionate example from Antoine Seilern to Julia and Johannes Wilde, from his piece on ‘An ‘Entombment’ by Rubens’ (The Burlington Magazine Vol. 95, No. 609, December 1953).

Seilern letter

What is interesting is the network of figures that emerges from these inscriptions, giving you a tangible picture of the who’s who of art historians and scholars from the first half of the twentieth century, with a particular emphasis on the ‘Vienna School’ and on émigrés such as Wilde, Seilern, Charles de Tolnay, Erwin Panofsky and many others. It is an interesting piece of Courtauld Institute history in itself, demonstrating how professors, peers and students influenced one another and continued to correspond throughout their careers. Below you can see an envelope addressed to Professor Wilde from Katherine Freemantle, containing a proof copy of some biographical particulars and a bibliography of Professor Jan van Gelder.

Wilde letter

For more information on the Wilde Collection, see the Special Collections page of the book library website. Further archive material on Wilde is held at UCL’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies. If you want to have a look at the offprints collection, we have a holdings list behind the issue desk in the book library.

Harriet Lam

CABS book of the month – June

This item from Special Collections is from the archive collection of Stella Mary Newton and is not a book at all. It is an invoice dated 15 May 1934 when Stella was still Stella Mary Pearce and had her own fashion label. The invoice recipient was the author Dodie Smith (1896-1990), best known for her book The hundred and one dalmations. Smith noted on the invoice that the silver evening dress had been “a great success”.

Smith had been an actress, which may be how she came into contact with Pearce, who often designed costumes for the theatre. In 1934, Smith published the play Touch Wood, which, according to her Oxford DNB entry, was the first to be written under her own name instead of the pseudonym C. L. Anthony.* Her day job was at Heal’s, running the store’s gallery and working as a toy buyer. Her future husband Alec Beesley, the Advertising Manager at Heal’s, gave her as a birthday present, Pongo, a Dalmatian. And so the story began …

Dodie Smith’s journals, correspondence and manuscripts are held in the archives at Boston University.

*Valerie Grove. “Dodie Smith”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. URL: http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/40481. Accessed 10 May 2010.

Erica Foden-Lenahan
Special Collections Librarian

Current awareness, Artists files revealed

What is it?

It is a web-based directory of institutional holdings of artists files compiled by the Art Libraries Society of North America. Researchers can browse the collection statements of various institutions and find links to further institutional resources.

What are “artists files”?

They are anything that is related to a single artist. These could vary from small books and exhibition catalogues to cards, newspaper clippings, press releases, diaries, posters, etc. They provide critical documentation about well established artists, as well as lesser known ones that are not well documented in the literature. Researchers rely on such files to establish chronologies, find out about exhibition dates, review stylistic developments and assess the critical reception of artists over time. Libraries do not always catalogue artists files and therefore these are not found by browsing their online catalogues. Also such collections have regional strengths and therefore are very important repositories for charting communities and exhibiting bodies.

Which libraries participate in the Artists Files Revealed?

At the moment mostly American institutions have collection statements such as the Frick, Guggenheim, Houston, etc.; the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Centre of Architecture are also there as well as the National Portrait Gallery in London. The directory is open to all so I am sure that the list of participators will increase.

Is it easy to use?

The software is basic and very user friendly. At the moment the directory won’t allow you to do advanced searches but they say that an upgrade is on its way.

OK, is it really for me?

It is good for researchers who are willing to go a step further and travel to visit other libraries. It will save you from browsing the online catalogues of each library for stuff that may not even be on their online catalogues. And it gives contact details so you can verify if a library has what you are looking for. Some of them offer interlibrary loan service where we could be of some help to you.

How can I access it?

Click here.

Vicky Kontou
Systems & Services

Image: Poster for the “Nameless” exhibition at Grosvenor Gallery, 1921-1922. Held in our Special Collections – CABS Z5055 LON GRO

Vive les pamphlets libres!!

The pamphlet collection consists of offprints, copyright-cleared extracts of books and journals and items that are too small or flimsy to be out on the shelves. The online catalogue will say when an item is a Pamphlet. These are now open to all. Please watch our short video to find out more.

Remember that also exhibition pamphlets have collection code ‘Pamphlet’ but these are not open to browse. We are currently changing their collection code on our system to say ‘Exhibition Pamphlet.’ If you are looking for a Pamphlet with classmark between Z5020 to Z5098 then you need to fill in the CABS request form.

Vicky Kontou
Assistant Librarian (Systems & Services)