In Conversation with the Artists, Readers and Printers of Venice

by Lavinia Harrington and Sammy Jay

28th April 2021

At the turn of the 16th century Venice was one of the most powerful cosmopolitan cities in Europe. As the epicentre of a formidable maritime empire – it was a city brimming with opportunities for ambitious artists, entrepreneurs and humanists. Setting off with Jacopo de Barbari’s astonishing Bird’s Eye View of Venice, printed in 1500 – we’ll navigate our way through this carefully curated presentation of the ‘miraculous’ city to explore Venice’s distinct character.

Venetian visual culture at this time was influenced by a myriad of fascinating intertwining threads – we’ll follow these by taking a closer look in particular at Carpaccio’s remarkable ‘Cycle of St Ursula’, the much-loved ‘St Augustine in his Study’ as well the young Titian’s masterpiece ‘Portrait of Gerolamo (?) Barbarigo’ amongst other works. The distinctly poetical nature of the cityscape as well as its compelling engagement with classical antiquity and influences sailing in from Byzantium will also be considered.

For the second part of the evening, Lavinia will be joined by Sammy Jay, from Peter Harrington Rare Books, to take a closer look at some of the products of Venice’s pioneering print culture around this time. Venice’s experience of classical rebirth was emphatically mediated through the printing of Greek and Roman texts by Aldus Manutius, who masterminded the pocket-sized secular book – precursor to the modern paperback. We will be treated to an immersive show-and-tell of several Aldine first editions, and other rarities, including a 1482 first edition of Euclid’s Elements of Geometry, an unmistakably cosmopolitan production: Greek and Arab mathematics, printed by a German, in (where else) Venice.

To bring this eclectic evening to a close, it will be our great privilege to welcome as our guest Paolo Olbi, one of Venice’s most eminent bookbinders and masters of paper, togther with his apprentices Anna Scovacricchi and Elena Monfalcon. They will be joining us live from Venice to tell us more about their original work and their continued mission to ‘reinvent this artisanal craft’ in Venice.

Sammy Jay

Sammy read English Literature at Oxford University, and joined Peter Harrington Rare Books in 2012 after discovering a first edition of Frankenstein inscribed to Lord Byron. He curates the modern literature department, and is particularly interested in poetry. His catalogues have included: PoetryWorld LiteratureIn Other Worlds: Fantasy, Science-Fiction, and Beyond; and Literature in Love. He also curated an exhibition of Bloomsbury rare books and manuscripts for Kim Jones’s haute couture debut for FENDI at Paris Fashion Week, January 2021.

For more information please visit the website of Peter Harrington Rare Books.

 

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