Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Art from across the globe

As our Art literature collection continues to expand, Stephen Town adds a splash of diversity to the selection.

This week's donations contain an eclectic mix
of art and illustration
I spent last weekend going through my late mother’s book collections. She would never have called it a library, but it was very substantial and varied, reflecting her interests, profession, causes and beliefs. It incorporated my late father’s collection and those of both their forbears, spanning nearly a century of commitment to Yorkshire education, a family tradition which of course I also continue until my retirement.

I have selected four items from her collection to add to my donations, all relating to the history of art. Most of her books will go to broader charitable causes, as she would have wished, and her almost complete set of twentieth century crime writing may well be available for purchase in a charity shop near you very soon.

Beach & Koch: King of the World: the Padshahnama

My mother loved India and continued to visit well past the time the rest of the family considered it safe and sensible. This large and beautifully illustrated book was published on the occasion of the exhibition of the Mughal manuscript from the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. The exhibition, organised by the Sackler Gallery, travelled across India, the UK and USA in 1997-98 and was part of the 5oth Anniversary celebrations of the independence of India and Pakistan. The book was the first time these illustrations had been published.

Neil MacGregor: Seeing salvation: images of Christ in Art

The Art section in our Library also has the National Gallery work arising from the millennial exhibition on which this book is based. But this work was produced by the BBC and accompanied a TV series shown in 2000, concentrating on the history of the artistic depiction of Christ. Parts of the holidays of my childhood were spent in galleries and churches across Europe, as a cultural alternative to walking and climbing. My mother had a strong faith, but as MacGregor suggests, these images can still speak powerfully to non-believers.

Pinkney: William Morris in Oxford

Like Morris, my mother was an Oxford student. Also like Morris, she was a strong believer in social justice, although in her later years this was expressed more through liberalism than socialism. This book focuses on Morris’ later life in Oxford, covering what the author describes as his campaigning years, as he took up architectural and social causes to transform the University and City.

Higgins & Robinson: William de Morgan

De Morgan was an arts and crafts potter, and a lifelong friend of William Morris. We already have a selection of works on De Morgan in the Library at LG 8.3, and this slim but copiously illustrated book will further enhance our collection. The pages contain some previously unillustrated designs for tiles, stained glass and pots, showing off his ‘fabulous animals, rich florals and flowing Persian curves’.

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