DO/Conversations

Quiescit anima libris. The spirit finds rest in books (and in museum objects, archival photographs, and garden sculpture). This is a Dumbarton Oaks project. For more about Dumbarton Oaks, visit www.doaks.org.

Exultet rolls: a medieval Easter tradition

by sarahkburke

Recently, because Deb Brown is preparing an exhibit on music in the collections of Dumbarton Oaks, we took out several of the Library’s facsimile copies of Exultet rolls. This was exciting for me (Sarah Burke Cahalan) because years ago I studied these scrolls in the context of a graduate school paper. It is not every day we have an excuse to open these facsimiles! Just in time for Easter, please enjoy some information about a medieval Paschal tradition. The primary source on these materials is Thomas Forrest Kelly’s The Exultet in Southern Italy (Oxford 1996).  Pictured are snapshots of the library’s facsimile copies of Casanatense, Cas. 724 III; Vatican, Barb. Lat. 592; Vatican, Lat. 9820.  Not a chocolate bunny in sight!

photo 2An Exultet roll, a scroll containing the Exultet prayer, was used to bless the Paschal candle at the Vigil ceremony on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. This candle became a sign for Christ during the recital of the chanted Exultet prayer. (The prayer is named for its first word.) There are twenty-eight extant Exultet rolls dating from the tenth to the thirteenth centuries; some of these are fragmentary but many are nearly complete. All originated in southern Italy, most in today’s Campania and Apulia, and with the exception of three manuscripts all remain in Italian collections. Six of the Exultet rolls (if we do not include the related Capua and Paris rolls) were made in the scriptorium of Montecassino. Others were made in monastic scriptoria in Bari, Troia and other regional centers. They were used both in monastic churches and in civic cathedrals.

The very fact that they are scrolls—the longest, Pisa 2, is 9000 mm but most are between 4000 and 6000 mm long—generates attention because most other luxurious manuscripts from medieval Europe are codices. Rectangles of parchment were attached to one another, often with thongs, to form a continuous scroll; most of the rolls are between 200 and 400 mm wide. Within a decorative border, text was written horizontally across the width of the scroll in ink, and images were drawn in ink and often painted. The text stops before each image, allowing the image to occupy the entire space between one border and another. Another noteworthy feature of the rolls is that the text is often, though not always, inverted in relation to the images. As the deacon sang the prayer he unrolled the manuscript over the ambo: indeed, in many images in the rolls we see the deacon doing exactly this. The images on the rolls were intended to become visible to the audience at approximately the same time as the deacon sang the prayers they illustrated, a scheme that was not always effective due to factors such as lighting and, more critically, the proximity on the parchment of the relevant prayers to the images they illustrated. Because of the Byzantine influence on these Italian images, Dumbarton Oaks owns several facsimiles of these manuscripts.

photo 1As the Exultet prayer is sung, the candle becomes a locus in which the union that is so important to Easter—of the celestial and the earthly—occurs. The Paschal candle, made entirely from pure beeswax, was an agricultural product. It was also a sign for Christ’s presence on earth in the days following the Resurrection. The imagery in the scrolls ranges from the Crossing of the Red Sea and the Harrowing of Hell to more quotidian images of bees (which produced the wax used to make the candle), soldiers, and members of the religious community.

photo 4The connection between celestial and earthly is often suggested by the Christian liturgy, but it takes particular precedence at Easter. As new Christians are baptized at the Easter Vigil, they join the group of those who will live anew in Heaven. Eucharist—distributed to the laity only rarely in the Middle Ages, and only at Easter according to the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215—is a reminder of the essential duality of the incarnation: God and man. As the Paschal candle is lit, participants in the ceremony are meant to understand that Christ once again returns to life having defeated death. All of these aspects of the Easter ceremony emphasize the participation of the faithful in important episodes of Christian history.

The Exultet rolls, which played an important part in the liturgy of Easter, are a wonderful example of why we need to consider how books (and scrolls) were used at the time of their production.

photo 5

Guglielmo Cavallo, Rotoli di Exultet dell’italia meridionale, Bari 1973

Martin R. Dudley, ‘Sacramental Liturgies in the Middle Ages,’ The Liturgy of the Medieval Church, edited by Thomas J. Heffernan and E. Ann Matter, Kalamazoo, MI 2001, pp. 215-243.

‘Exsultet (Easter Proclamation)’, Catholic Culture, http://www.catholicculture.org/liturgicalyear/prayers/view.cfm?id=1227.

Thomas Forrest Kelly, The Exultet in Southern Italy, Oxford 1996.

John Lowden, ‘Illuminated Books and the Liturgy: Some Observations,’ Objects, Images, and the Word: Art in the Service of the Liturgy, edited by Colum Hourihane, Princeton, NJ 2003, pp. 17-53.

Sketches from the fairest objects of science

by sarahkburke

It is March 25. This is what it looks like at Dumbarton Oaks today:

photo 1The winter jasmine is covered in snow. Daffodils that had dared to bloom now droop toward the ground. My colleagues are shoveling and salting the walkways, again. Today, the best place to look for flowers is in the Rare Book Collection. One slim volume is particularly heartwarming on a chilly day, inasmuch as it was a handmade gift for a relation. Dated July 1789, bound in marbled paper, cataloged as Watercolors of flowers and butterflies, the manuscript was prepared for a Mrs. Whyte “by her obliged relation R. B. F.”

"Monsonia--Cape of Good Hope"

“Monsonia–Cape of Good Hope”

R. B. F. calls them “sketches from the fairest objects of a Science she [Mrs. Whyte] so much approves.” The paintings show flowers, some native to England but many from South Africa and the Americas. Three of the fourteen flowers are accompanied by insects: a bee moth, a cream-spot tiger moth, and a red admiral butterfly. But they were not all drawn from nature.

"Cream-spot tyger-moth, & Vinca major-Periwinkle -- England"

“Cream-spot tyger-moth, & Vinca major-Periwinkle — England”

In fact, several images in the book seem to derive from plants included in the first volumes of William Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, or, Flower-garden Displayed, the first volume of which appeared in 1787. See, for example, the image of Passiflora alata (winged-stem passion flower) from Curtis beside the image of the same from the R. B. F. manuscript.

Left: William Curtis. The Botanical Magazine, or, Flower-garden Displayed.  Plate 66.  Right: "Passiflora alata-winged passion flower--West India"

Left: William Curtis. The Botanical Magazine, or, Flower-garden Displayed. Plate 66. Right: “Passiflora alata-winged passion flower–West India”

Curtis’s magazine which, after several title changes, is still published today, made botany and botanical art available to a wider audience than had previously had access to such work.  This manuscript is a fascinating example of the presence of such knowledge in domestic contexts, the re-use of published images, and of the interest in botanical illustration among non-specialist audiences at the end of the eighteenth century. It vibrates with life: brightly-colored flowers accompanied by winged insects, images copied carefully as a gesture of affection.

[HOLLIS]

“While I contrived to dedicate myself to the study of Botany”

by sarahkburke

The newest online exhibit from Dumbarton Oaks explores the Botany of Empire in the Long Eighteenth Century. One of the featured items in this exhibit is an eighteenth-century manuscript copy of Paolo Boccone’s Museo de Piante rare (1697). The manuscript was prepared by Aloysio Cabrini.  Based on his interest in medicinal plants, it seems possible that Cabrini may have been a pharmacist.

This 1791 manuscript consists of hand-drawn copies of nearly every engraving from Boccone’s 1697 Museo. Many of the illustrations are accompanied by Linnaean names, reflecting eighteenth-century developments that revolutionized the study of natural history. In addition, the volume has at least sixteen original images of plants that had not been included in the earlier publication.

Hypericum crispum in Boccone (left) and Cabrini (right)

Hypericum crispum in Boccone (left) and Cabrini (right)

Some of the plants Cabrini adds are common Mediterranean flowers such as the Calendula officinalis (or marigold) and the Rosa gallica. To others, such as Aristolochia longa vera officinarum, Cabrini ascribes medical uses. He recommends Assarum officinarum as a substitute for Ipecachuana [sic] succedanea, an emetic.  He recommends both Uva ursi and Vita-Idaea (perhaps Vaccinium vitis-idaea, or lingonberry) for cases of “stone.”

Cabrini’s manuscript copies only the printed tables from the Museo, omitting Boccone’s text. The addition of classification information to the images, as well as the occasional addition of new morphological details—often the flower or the calyx—required more space, so that the plants from one printed plate can easily occupy several leaves in Cabrini’s manuscript. The new details are significant given the prominent use of flowers and sepals in eighteenth-century systems of plant identification.

Approximate area of Cabrini's botanical study

Approximate area of Cabrini’s botanical study

Cabrini’s region seems to have been the area east of the Appenine Mountains, between Ancona and Pescara on Italy’s east coast, perhaps based in the city of Macerata. In his preface Cabrini mentions that he borrowed a copy of Boccone’s Museo from a doctor. He believed that he could improve it by introducing information from Linnaeus.

The following images show Cabrini’s handwritten preface:

preface, page 1

preface, page 2

A transcription of the Latin follows:

Praefatio & Operis ratio.

Dum me ad Botanicae studium dedicare, voluptatem haud paucam et utilem mihi afferre excogitabam; tot tantorum hominum illustrium vestigia sequutus, non labori, non sudoribus, neque impensis peperci ad incommodas per accliviores Appeninos montes peregrinationes suscipiendas, nec non diuturnas intra patriam herborisationes.  Tum classicorum Autorum opera reconsulebam, inter quae ea cl. Linnaei frequentius. In speciebus recognoscendis Musei Petr. Bocconi panormitani Ill. Vir magni faciebat.  Quidam medicus amicus illud mihi rarum opus  gratie mutuabat.  Hoc restituto hinc quanti esse faciendum et quam mihi fare necessarium praevidebam.  Optimum ideo duxi ruditer ab eo imitare tabulas, hisce praeter sua Linnaei generica nec non specifica nomina frasesque inscribere, ullas Ill. Halleri notas ad lumen revocare; hinc demum in colligando opus sexdecim alteras addere icones, quae, nesciendo ubi eas inserere in botanices oblectamentis mihi specimen dabant, et sunt: (1) Jacea-Intybacea, idest Centaurea-nudicaulis Linnaei, quae ex cel. Scopoli sententia, quum sit planta adhuc in propria specie obscura, ideo ipsius Linnaei herbarium a cl. Smithio Londini possessum esset consulendum ut ad quam ex duobus iconibus pertineat decideremus. (2) Campanula-Erinus Linn. lecta in peculiari viridario Maceratae atque abbunde in Piceni peregrinationibus reperta; etiam Viola-grandiflora, que videtur confondere cum sequenti (3) Viola-calcarata prope Nursiae appenninos passim collecta ambae Violae-Tricoloris L. progenies.  (4) Thea-Bohea L. species in mensae deliciis vera, et admodum diversa a Thee-Sinensium, sive Tsia-Japonica in hocce Bocconis Museo tab. 94 exculpta. (5) Coffea-arabica Linn. Coffeae-occidentalis exquisitior. (6) Aristolochia-longa vera officinarum regni neapolitani incola, quam plurimi pharmacopoei certe ignorant inscienterque Clematite pro longa Aristolochia utuntur et venditant. (7) Assarum-officinarum, cuius radices majori datae dosi exoticae Ipecachuanae succedaneae ex cel. Amico medico mihi ordinatae multoties suppeditavi. (8) Uva ursi officinarum herba in calculosis tam praestantior ne mihi cum (9) Vite-Idaea confunderetur libentius comparata (10) Croton-tinctorium primus credo inter botanicae peregrinatores Italiae Appeninorum incolam invenisse romani agri vinetis etiam familiarem; quam optandum Itali ad instar Belgii, Palli &c. pro re tinctoria adhiberent. (11) Comunissimum Solanum-nigrum, (12) Calendula-officinalis, (13) Prunus-spinosa, (14) Ageratum-officinarum, (15) Rosa-gallica, (16) Geranium-malacoides Linn; quae moenia Piceni urbium passim inhabitat, quarum conplurimas Florae Piceni catalogus, ac Prodromus iam incohatus enumerabat.  At optimorum mecenatum deficientia fataque adversa prohibuerunt.

Enjoy working through some of Cabrini’s Latin composition!  (The description of Jacea-Intybacea in particular has prompted a fair amount of head-scratching.)

Cabrini concludes his introduction with a lament about his lack of a patron as well as his “fata adversa.” If he was indeed based in Macerata, he was at a significant distance from the Italian hubs of botanical research, such as Pisa and Padua. Perhaps he had hoped to publish his additions to Boccone’s book, but found himself stymied by the complicated systems of scientific publication and patronage in eighteenth-century Europe.

Vitis Idaea Officinarum

Vitis Idaea Officinarum

Roses and Redouté

by doconversationsblog

Another guest post by Summer Intern Jasmine Casart.  Jasmine worked in the Rare Book Collection to help plan an exhibit that will accompany this fall’s symposium, “The Botany of Empire in the Long Eighteenth Century.”  Learn more here.

Dumbarton Oaks is home to a beautiful rose garden that contains about 900 roses of over 50 cultivars.  The west wall of the rose garden contains the crypt of Robert and Mildred Bliss, forever overlooking the land and flowers they loved.  Many of the garden’s cultivars—like Cecile Brunner and Lady Hillingdon—have been growing in the garden since the 1920s, while others—like hybrids Buff Beauty and Chrysler Imperial—are more recent additions.  To mark the end of summer, we share here some photographs of indoor roses, the particularly hardy variety that lives in books.

Rosa eglanteria punicea (Redoute. Les Roses. Vol. 1, plate 72)

Rosa eglanteria punicea (Redoute. Les Roses. Vol. 1, plate 72)

Known as “the Raphael of Flowers,” Pierre Joseph Redouté (1759-1840) was one of the most talented botanical illustrators of his era, creating illustrations of value to both science and art.  He worked for France’s Jardin du Roi as well as for botanists like Charles Louis L’Héritier and René Desfontaines, drawing botanical specimens for the classification and organization of the growing body of plants known to European naturalists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  His work was so entrancing that he secured the admiration and patronage of both Marie-Antoinette and Joséphine de Beauharnais, wife of Napoleon I.

Rosa gallica (volume 2, plate 30)

Rosa gallica (volume 2, plate 30)

In 1817, Redouté published Les Roses, a collection of his illustrations of the roses in  Joséphine’s garden at Malmaison.  The folio work created enough interest that, in 1824, an octavo edition was produced.  Although the names and cultivars have changed in the two centuries since, roses and rose gardens continue to capture the imagination and appreciation of artists, royalty, and scholars alike.

Rosa gallica regalis (Volume 2, plate 20)

Rosa gallica regalis (Volume 2, plate 20)

Rosa alba cimboefolia (Volume 2, plate 48)

Rosa alba cimboefolia (Volume 2, plate 48)

Rosa indica cruenta (volume 1, plate 124)

Rosa indica cruenta (volume 1, plate 124)

Sources:

Hunt Botanical Library. A Catalogue of Redoutéana Exhibited at the Hunt Botanical Library 21 April to 1 August 1963. Pittsburgh: Hunt Botanical Library, Carnegie Institute of Technology, 1963.

Redouté, P.J. Les Roses. Paris: de l’Imprimerie de Firmin Didot, 1817-1824.

“The Rose Garden.” Dumbarton Oaks. http://www.doaks.org/gardens/virtual-tour/enclosed-gardens/ggr-virtual-tour-15 Accessed August 2013.

Pineapple—The Fruit of Hospitality

by doconversationsblog

A guest post by Summer Intern Jasmine Casart, with accompanying architectural photographs by Summer Fellow Abigail Dowling.  Jasmine worked in the Rare Book Collection to help plan an exhibit that will accompany this fall’s symposium, “The Botany of Empire in the Long Eighteenth Century.”  Learn more here.

Johannes Commelin. Horti medici amstelodamensis rariorum, 1697-1701. Figure 57, Ananas.  Photographed by Megan Cook.

Johannes Commelin. Horti medici amstelodamensis rariorum, 1697-1701. Figure 57, Ananas. Photographed by Megan Cook.

The goal of many eighteenth-century imperial expeditions was to explore the natural resources of new colonies and lands in search of potentially profitable plants and products. Naturalists brought back seeds, fruits, whole plants, roots or cuttings of exotic plants, hoping to grow them back in Europe to display in gardens and foster new botanical economies. The success of such endeavors is evident in the aesthetics of historic Georgetown homes and Dumbarton Oaks architecture if one looks closely enough.

Q and 28th

A Georgetown welcome (photo by Abigail Dowling)

The pineapple (Ananas comosus) was the first tropical fruit successfully grown in northern Europe. From South America, the pineapple captured the curiosity of Western visitors as early as 1493 when Christopher Columbus came across it in Guadeloupe. With its sweet fragrance, delicious taste, bizarre appearance, and medicinal digestive properties, pineapples fascinated European gardeners and naturalists who were keen to introduce the “King of Fruit,” as many called it, to the West. Yet although tropical plants grew in Spain and southern Europe, they did not survive in the cold north. Gardeners and naturalists experimented and introduced many new techniques to grow pineapple and other tropical plants that needed constant care to fruit.

Dumbarton Oaks Box Ellipse entrance (photo by Abigail Dowling)

Dumbarton Oaks Box Ellipse entrance (photo by Abigail Dowling)

Pineapple quickly became a status symbol in the eighteenth century as only wealthy patrons with the best gardeners could cultivate the delicate, expensive plant that required daily upkeep year-round. Gardeners of wealthy estates competed to produce superior pineapples and varieties others did not grow. A pineapple was a costly and highly complimentary gift reserved for royalty, gentry, or family heads in imperial Europe. Having a pineapple as a centerpiece for important dinner parties was so highly regarded that some shops even rented the fruits out to households by the day.

P and 29th

A welcoming sight (photo by Abigail Dowling)

In addition to wealth, pineapple represented hospitality and a successful voyage. Sailors often brought back the durable exotic fruit and placed it on their porches or speared onto fences, indicating their safe return and welcoming friends to visit. Pineapple has continued to symbolize a friendly, welcoming environment in both Europe and America, often included as motifs on doors of homes, shops, and hotels. Virginia and Hawaii are two states that heartily embrace the use of pineapple as a symbol of hospitality and warmth, but the motif can also be found in Georgetown, from residential front doors to Dumbarton Oaks’s greenhouse and Ellipse.

32nd Street

Georgetown hospitality (photo by Abigail Dowling)

Dumbarton Oaks Greenhouse

Dumbarton Oaks Greenhouse (photo by Abigail Dowling)

Sources:

Drower, George. 2002. Gardeners, Gurus & Grubs: The stories of garden inventors and innovations. Sutton Publishing Limited, England. 2001.

Gorely, Jean. July 1945.  “The Pineapple Symbol of Hospitality.” Antiques (July 1945): Dole Archives, Hamilton Library Pacific Collections, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI.

Okihiro, Gary Y. 2009. Pineapple Culture: A History of the Tropical and Temperate Zones. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.

The Botany of Empire in the Long Eighteenth Century

by sarahkburke

Symposium at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection

Durian, from an album of watercolors of Asian fruits and flowers, ca. 1798-1810. Dumbarton Oaks Rare Book Collection.

Durian, from an album of watercolors of Asian fruits and flowers, ca. 1798-1810. Dumbarton Oaks Rare Book Collection.

Washington, D.C. | October 4–5, 2013
This two-day symposium will bring together an international body of scholars working on botanical investigations and publications within the context of imperial expansion in the long eighteenth century. The period saw widespread exploration, a tremendous increase in the traffic in botanical specimens, significant taxonomic innovations, and horticultural experimentation. We will revisit these developments from a comparative perspective that will include Europe, the Ottoman Empire, Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

Main themes for discussion are global networks of plant discovery and transfer; the quest for medicinal plants and global crops such as ginseng, tea and opium; the economies of gift, trade, patronage, and scientific prestige in which plants circulated; imperial aspirations or influences as reflected on garden design; and visual strategies and epistemologies.

The symposium will coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the Rare Book Room at Dumbarton Oaks, and will feature an exhibit of botanical works from our collections.

Registration for the symposium is now open. For more information you can visit the website, or write to BotanySymposium@doaks.org.

Robert Furber

by sarahkburke

Twelve Months of Flowers: August

Twelve Months of Flowers: August

As a follow-up to our last post, which featured images from 19th-century seed catalogs, let us look even further back.  How did people buy seeds and plants in the 18th century?

In the late 17th century, seed catalogs were often published as broadsides.  Starting in the 1720s, they might instead be published as short books.  Robert Furber’s were among the first of these books.  His Short Introduction to Gardening (1733) brought together many of his earlier catalogs.  Furber also introduced the use of luxurious illustrations to promote plants for sale, most notably with 1730’s Twelve Months of Flowers and 1732’s Twelve Months of Fruit; the lavish prints from these volumes were also available for sale.

Like other catalogs in this period, Furber’s listed no prices.  In fact, well into the 1830s, catalogs would be issued without price so that they would remain valid for several years; a separate list of prices would be circulated each year.

Twelve Months of Flowers: November

Twelve Months of Flowers: November

Furber, Robert. Twelve Months of Flowers: From the Collection of Robt. Furber, Gardiner at Kensington. London: s.n, 1730. [HOLLIS]

Spring!

by sarahkburke

What does spring look like where you live?  Here in DC, the plum and magnolia flowers have come and gone.  Some cherry blossoms are still lingering.  The wisteria are at their best, and of course summer (and roses!) is on the horizon.  Make sure to check in with the Dumbarton Oaks Garden Blog for regular photographs from our gardens: http://bloomingatdoaks.com

Here are some images of seed catalogs – from the Dumbarton Oaks Rare Book Collection – to put you in the mood for spring.

Two Glorious New Sweet Peas

Two Glorious New Sweet Peas

 

Currie Bros. Horticultural Guide

Currie Bros. Horticultural Guide

 

Group of French and German Asters

Group of French and German Asters

 

Parker and Wood

Parker and Wood

 

2012 in review

by sarahkburke

WordPress crunched the numbers and prepared a report on this blog.  We had about 6,700 views in 2012.  Curious about more stats?  Click through below…

Click here to see the complete report.

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