Good news for Raphael lovers…


Le pitture delle Stanze Vaticane di di Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, 1838, plate 1

Le pitture delle Stanze Vaticane di di Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, 1838, plate 1

The cataloguing of the John Shearman library is proceeding apace and a jewel of the library is his Raphael collection. The Raphael books number just over 250 volumes and are, except for the occasional stray volume, fully catalogued. The collection encompasses second copies of many of the books we already have but, more importantly, there are a lot of titles for which I was unable to find other copies in the UK and, in very rare cases, was not able to find other copies anywhere.


There are multiple editions in English, French, Italian and German of staple 19th-century Raphael biographies by Quatremère de Quincy, Passavant, Müntz, and Crowe & Cavalcaselle. There are early copies of Carl Ruland’s catalogue of Raphael works in the Royal Collection, as well as an 18th-century catalogue of engravings after the Raphael cartoons also in the Royal Collection.


Bellori’s 1695 Descrizzione delle imagini dipinte da Rafaelle d’Urbino nelle camere del Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano has an interesting provenance, having been part of the libraries of two reknowned 19th-century bibliophiles, Gustavo Galletti and Baron Horace de Landau at Villa-Landau-Finaly, both in Florence.

Le pitture delle Stanze Vaticane di Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, 1838 title page

Le pitture delle Stanze Vaticane di Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, 1838 title page

And the Le pitture delle Stanze Vaticane di Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, published in 1838 in Rome, bears the evidence of provenance by at least 4 art historians – A.E. Popham, Jim Byam Shaw, John Gere and, of course, John Shearman. What a pedigree!

Shearman Raffaello Sanzio 1838 provenance markings

Shearman Raffaello Sanzio 1838 provenance markings

About 20% of the Raphael books were published before 1900, including my favourite paper binding, on the Elogio storico di Raffaello Santi, 1829, which complement our later editions and reprints. We are able to see how the views of scholars have changed and how earlier scholars’ own works have been reinterpreted in the 20th-century, gaining a fuller picture of Raphael scholarship almost right up to the present.


Elogio storico di Raffaello Santi, 1829 binding

Elogio storico di Raffaello Santi, 1829 binding

Where a Shearman book is a duplicate of reference books we have on the open shelves, we are making the open shelves copies available for loan, so some important texts can be taken home now, but we still have a reference copy in the Special Collections.

This collection is already being used, judging from the number of slips for books waiting to be reshelved and we hope it complements all our material on the artist and for the broader study of Renaissance art. If you are interested in viewing the records for the John Shearman’s Raphael collection on the library catalogue, you need to select the multi-field search option and use the drop-down menus to isolate search words such as Collection code – SPECL and Former owner, provenance – Shearman, and combine them with Raphael in the Any words field (see search below). Once you know the books you would like to see, you can complete request forms at the issue desk.

Searching the catalogue

Erica Foden-Lenahan
Special Collections Librarian
Shearman Project cataloguer

Special Collections Projects Underway

2012 is proving to be a big year for the Special Collections at the Courtauld Book Library. We now have two dedicated Special Collections Librarians – Erica Foden-Lenahan (Tues & Sat) and Hannah Thomas (Weds-Fri) – who will be working hard on a couple of big projects as well as being your day to day contact for all things Special Collections.

Erica, who has been at the Book Library for three years now, is working on The Shearman Collection. In 2004, the Book Library received the collection of the late Professor John Shearman, an eminent academic and former Deputy Director of The Courtauld. A leading scholar of Italian Renaissance and a Raphael expert, his library contains about 4000 items, including many off-prints, covering Renaissance and Baroque art.

Hannah, who started here in October 2011 and has experience working for the British Library and the National Trust, will be concentrating on The Seilern Collection. Received in 1978, the collection consists of Count Antoine Seilern’s extensive Rubens holdings; catalogues of private collections and sales; works on Tiepolo, Lorrain and Poussin; and extensive material on Dutch art of the Renaissance. There is a lot of material – well over 4000 volumes – some of which was added to the library’s computer system as part of a previous cataloguing project.

Thanks to generous funding from the Foyle Foundation, Erica and Hannah will be making these fascinating collections accessible to the Courtauld community and researchers all over the world.

The collections will be catalogued and united with the already rich and unique Special Collections of the Courtauld Book Library, including the libraries of Antony Blunt and Johannes Wilde. Ultimately this will create an unrivalled Renaissance and Baroque study collection available for students, scholars and visitors for generations to come. It also tells the story of the development of art history as an academic discipline in the UK and the network of art historians, as well as highlighting the contributions made by European émigrés to the subject. These libraries also often yield more personal insights like the note from one of John Shearman’s daughters found as a bookmark.

Erica and Hannah hope to keep us all updated on their progress via the Book Library blog but in the meantime if you have any questions about any aspects of our Special Collections then please contact them at


Provenance help with a bookplate

Descrizzione delle imagini dipinte da Rafaelle d’Urbino nelle camere del Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano, a work by Giovanni Pietro Bellori.

We are fortunate to have two copies of this work and the copy that was part of the John Shearman bequest bears the bookplate to the left and we would like to make reference to it in the catalogue record.

This volume was once owned by the bibliophile Gustavo Camillo Galletti and bears its stamp on the title page.

Can anyone recognize the bookplate and identify whether it is another provenance marking for the Biblioteca Galletti, or if it is one used by another library or collector? Any help would be appreciated.

Erica Foden-Lenahan
Special Collections



Emblemata, Emblemata, Emblemata – May

What is an emblem book? It is a form that was tremendously popular during the Renaissance. It is believed that the Italian lawyer Andrea Alciato devised the first such book. The books themselves contained small illustrations (a bit like a modern thumbnail image) that were accompanied by “a brief title or motto, an edifying verse epigram, and often an additional explanatory text in verse or prose.”                (Gordon Collection: Emblem Books

These books were created by individuals and reveal their own outlook, but they also “communicate moral, political, or religious values in ways that have to be decoded by the viewer.” (Glasgow University Emblem Project. They often have classical or humanist sources, such as Erasmus’s Adages. (Gordon Collection: Emblem Books

Alciato introduced the first Emblematum liber, published by Heinrich Steyner and printed in Augsburg in 1531. Scholarship suggests that Alciato himself had nothing to do with this series of editions, but that his associate and friend Conrad Peutinger commissioned the publications based on unillustrated epigrams, etc., that “had circulated among Alciato’s friends in manuscript” (Andrea Alciato’s Emblematum. Alciato at Glasgow. Several versions were printed in continental Europe and were collected widely.

This month’s CABS Book-of-the-Month is a version printed, we believe, in Leiden by Franciscus Raphelengius (son-in-law of Christoph Plantin) in 1608. We don’t know for sure because the title page is a hand drawn copy that was added at some stage, possibly to replace the original title page which was destroyed. But one inclined to conspiracy theories might think that it was a deliberate attempt to associate an inferior copy with a renowned publishing house and established edition of the book. Who knows?

This book is fascinating for a number of other reasons, mostly relating to its binding. First of all, the book has no writing on the spine, but Alciatus is written vertically on the fore-edge of the book, two letters per row. Anyone interested in library history will know that bookshelves as we know them only came into common usage well into the era of the printed book. Manuscripts and early printed books were usually laid flat on lecterns or shelves and were often chained to the furniture. It was only with the mass production of books that forced libraries to find a more space-efficient way of storing them. Initially they were shelved upright, fore-edge facing out. Blind-tooled decoration was common in northern Europe into the 17th century and that did not lend itself well to spine titles. With the spread of gold-tooling from northern Africa via Italy and Spain, which was a more visible way of marking the spine, books began to be shelved spine outwards.

We know very little about the book’s provenance other than it was given to the Courtauld in 1978 in accordance with the bequest of the art historian and collector Dame Joan Evans. But if the book was published in The Netherlands it was northern Europe and the binding tells us a bit more. The book has been sewn onto pasteboard boards using 4 parchment thongs, which are visible because there are no pastedowns. These are all features of that suggest the binding is contemporary to the publication of the book, if 1608 is correct.

The covering is brown calf, blind tooled with floral and compass motif stamps, one of which incorporates the initials RW. The initials could be those of the owner of the book, although they are more likely to have been those of the binder or the finisher (the person who decorated the binding). The initials also suggest a northern European origin, as the letter W appears in Spanish, Italian and French words usually only of foreign borrowings.

The book has a shelfmark of CABS Z7483 ALC. We have another edition (Emblemata ad quae singula, praeter concinnas insciptiones, imagines…) in the Anthony Blunt bequest. This was published in Lyon in 1626. Its shelfmark is BLUNT ALICIATI. The library has a other emblem books, including a copy of Ripa’s Iconologia, which is not an emblem book per se, but has similar elements, Jacob Cats’s Proteus ofte minne-beelden verandert in sinne-beelden, for an example of a Flemish emblem book, and an 1883 facsimile of Jean Cousin’s Liber: Fortunæ centũ emblemata, et symbola centũ, continens…, as well as a number of books about emblem books.

There are numerous emblem projects, so if you are interested:
OpenEmblem Project – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign –
Alciato’s Book of Emblems – Memorial University at St. John’s, Newfoundland –
Glasgow University Emblem site –
Alciato at Glasgow –
The English Emblem Project – Penn State University –
Emblem Project Utrecht –

Erica Foden-Lenahan
Special Collections

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: Accessed 10 May 2010.

Erica Foden-Lenahan
Special Collections Librarian

CABS book of the month – May

In honour of the Sotheby’s sale Trésors du Coffre Vollard, the Special Collections Book-of-the-month is Ambroise Vollard’s biography of Paul Cézanne. Vollard was a art dealer, who died in 1939. The sale features works by Derain, Cézanne, and Picasso, among others, that were deposited in a Paris bank vault in 1940. The book, entitled Paul Cézanne, was written by Vollard and published by his imprint in 1914. It came into the Book Library collection through presentation, in 1932, by Samuel Courtauld. It bears Courtauld’s distinctive bookplate, designed by Paul Nash, and is at CABS shelfmark D553.CEZ VOL (oversize).

Erica Foden-Lenahan
Special Collections Librarian