Saturday, January 24, 2015

In the Library: Recent Acquisitions

Where: National Gallery of Art Library

When: through January 30, 2015

Although the East Building of the National Gallery of Art is presently closed for renovations, the main floor, including the library, is still open.  As regular readers of this blog will know, the library staff puts on small displays in the case in the main reading room on a rotating basis; at present they are highlighting their recent acquisitions.

I suspect that, aside from librarians like myself and those particularly interested in art books, this might be a display that would attract few visitors.  In addition, when I went over, I talked to the guard at the library's entrance, and he told me there had been no publicity surrounding this exhibit.  I'd noticed that it's not listed on the "Current Exhibitions" page of their website.  The only reason I knew about it was because I'd taken a tour of the library last month, and our guide mentioned it.  I'm going to pay special attention from now on to make sure I don't miss a show.  Really, National Gallery, help me out here - don't make it hard for me to find out what's on display!

Quibbling about publicity aside, the display itself is quite nice.  They've collected a wide range of items, some of them quite old, but others as recent as the 20th century.  The books cover multiple subjects within the world of art and are from many different countries.  Two particularly caught my eye.  Linguae vitia & remedia by Antoine de Bourgogne, which translates as "Abuses of language & their remedies."  We think of poor grammar and misuse of words as a modern problem, but since this was published in 1652, it's clearly not.  Ricordo di Venezia by Carlo Naya, published in 1876 is an album of views of Venice - those that visitors on the Grand Tour would want as souvenirs.  I was, of course, reminded of the big exhibit on View Paintings the National Gallery put on several years ago.

Verdict: Worth a look if you're interested in art books, but otherwise, you can give it a miss.

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