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Friday, March 29, 2013

Voices of 1863

This week I have been working hard on wrapping up label copy for the upcoming exhibit Voices of 1863:Witnesses to the Civil War, which will open on May 1. The show focuses on three events of 1863--the Emancipation Proclamation, Vicksburg, and Gettysburg, and as the title suggests, the main goal of the exhibit is to highlight the actual words and experiences of people connected with those events.

It's been a wonderful project to work on, since the documents here at the Rosenbach are so rich and evocative; I just love reading them and I hope you will too. It has, however, left little time for blog writing this week, so I thought I might just offer a teaser of some my favorite 1863 quotes from the exhibit.

I do not look upon the fall of Vicksburg as in the least doubtful. If however I could have carried the place on the 22nd of last month I could by this time have made a campaign that would have made the state of Mississippi almost safe for a solitary horseman to ride over. As it is the enemy have a large army in it and the season has so far advanced that water will be difficult to find for an army marching besides the dust and heat that must be encountered. The fall of Vicksburg now will only result in the opening of the Miss. River and demoralization of the enemy. I intended more from it. I did my best however and looking back can see no blunder committed

U.S. Grant, letter to his father, June 15, 1863

It now seems that our last march was a botch as usual… we marched parts of two days to reach this point and are still here whilst our destination could have been reached, if guides were worth anything, in one. this is of a piece with all our movements — to reach this point from opposite Fredericksburg I suppose we have marched nearly twenty unnecessary miles on exceedingly hot days. with this exposition is it any wonder that the rebels move faster than we do.

Alexander Biddle, 121st Pennsylvania Reg't, letter to his wife, June 19, 1863

I mounted and directed the men as well as I could. they lay down behind a fence and returned the rebel fire with great sharpness, bullets were striking everywhere and men falling — back of us was a large brick house used as a hospital, a theological seminary I believe. I rode round this up to the front of the line and here saw the Colonel. he had received a scalp wound in the back of the head but was still on his feet and went to the hospital for a few moments. I rode out with the Colonel of the NYk 20th to the left and saw the line of rebels advancing to outflank us and reported it to General Rowley — he told me to take command and bring the broken troops there. I tried to do so as well as I could but the rebels on our left got in and the men retreated behind the hospital down to the road.

Alexander Biddle, 121st Pennsyvania Reg't, letter to his wife, July 1, 1863, describing the first day's battle at Gettysburg

Both Jennie & I think that Mother, Mary & the children should come here if by any means at all they can reach us—We are in nothing like so great danger here as you are in C[hambersburg]—I think it quite likely that if the Rebs occupy Pa. long we will have them here, but there is nothing here now of sufficient importance to either attract or keep them.

John Riddle Warner, letter to his in-laws suggesting they come to Gettysburg, June 23, 1863, one week before the battle

The war is evidently growing oppressive to the Southern people. Their institution are beginning to have ideas of their own and every time an expedition goes out more or less of them follow in the wake of the army and come into camp. I am using them as teamsters, Hospital attendants, company cooks etc. thus saving soldiers to carry the musket.

I don’t know what is to become of these poor people in the end but it [is]weakening the enemy to take them from them.

U.S. Grant, letter to his sister, August 19, 1862
For more great Civil War documents, remember to check out the Rosenbach blog Today in the Civil War

Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog

Friday, March 22, 2013

Tiny Timepiece

Sometimes good things come in small packages, which is certainly true for this petite pocket timepiece. It measures only 2 inches across, but I think its interest far exceeds its size.

Ludovico Theodatus Muller, sundial. Brass. Augsburg, 1725-1775. Rosenbach Museum & Library 1954.2082
Nowadays, when folks want to know what time it is, they generally reach for their cellphones. But long before that was available there was the pocket sundial.

Unlike a watch-mechanism, the sun’s angle varies by latitude. To compensate, the hour ring of this 18th-century Augsburg-type equinoctial sundial is hinged, so it can adjusted for different cities. The pocket sundial’s integrated compass facilitates the necessary task of aligning the gnomon (shadow-caster) with the earth’s axis.  

Ludovico Theodatus Muller, sundial. Brass. Augsburg, 1725-1775. Rosenbach Museum & Library 1954.2082
An engraved plate on the reverse specifies the latitudes of Lisbon, Rome, Venice, Vienna, Augsburg, Munich, Nuremburg, Regensburg, Prague and Riga; the preponderance of Germanic cities reflects the piece’s origin and therefore the anticipated travels of its owner. It also bears the initials LTM for its maker, Ludovicus Theodatus Muller.
Ludovico Theodatus Muller, sundial. Brass. Augsburg, 1725-1775. Rosenbach Museum & Library 1954.2082

You can find many examples of similar sundials in the online catalog of the National Maritime Museum in Britain, including other dials by Muller. With that, the time has come to wrap up this post.

Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Papal Illumination

With all the news this week being about the conclave and the new pope, I couldn't resist writing this week's post about an illustration of a pope. 

Pallavicini Master, Presentation of a book to Pope Julius II by a Benedictine. Rome, ca. 1505-1510.Rosenbach Museum & Library. 1954.569
This lovely illustration on vellum exists in our collection as a single illuminated leaf. It depicts a kneeling Benedictine monk presenting a book to a pope. The pope has sometimes been attributed as Sixtus IV (pope from 1471 to 1484), but it seems more likely to be Julius II (pope from 1503-1513). Both popes were of the Della Rovere family, whose oak tree emblem appears on the cover of the book the monk is presenting. Julius II commissioned the famous Michelangelo ceiling frescoes in the Sistine Chapel (a chapel named for Sixtus IV), frescoes which also incorporate oak leaves and acorns.

The pope in this image is wearing the papal tiara, also known as the triregnum or triple crown. The tiara evolved over time, but the triple version was used from the 14th century until the 20th century. Pope Paul VI was the last pope to use one. The pope wears the traditional red shoes (which Benedict XVI more recently received so much attention for); the rest of his clothes are also red, which was the traditional papal color until 1566, when Pope Pius V kept his Dominican white and the color change stuck.

The illustration is by an unidentified artist known as the “Pallavicini Master" for similar images he made for Cardinal Antoniotto Pallavicini (1442–1507). The artist is distinguished by his classical taste--note the cameos and medallions in the border, which feature figures from Nero at the upper left to Augustus at the lower right, by way of Vulcan, the three graces, and other identifiable scenes. The artist also incorporated a relief into the central scene itself--look in the background under the window.

This piece was included in the 2001 exhibit Leaves of Gold at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and to find out more about how this and similar manuscripts were made, you can check out their wonderful site. 

Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog

Thursday, March 07, 2013

No Snow in Philadelphia

Here is what we were promised.

George Cruikshank, Boney Hatching a Bulletin or Snug Winter Quarters. 1812. Rosenbach Museum & Library 1954.501
 And here's what we got.

George Cruikshank, Anglo-Gallic Salutations In London. 1822. Rosenbach Museum & Library 1954.1880.1562

I, for one, am saddened by the lack of Snowquester here in Philadelphia, since I was all set to build my Moby Dick snowman! Better luck next time.

Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog

Friday, March 01, 2013

Marianne Moore's Typewriter

This week's post is another in the series of posts adapted from papers on Rosenbach objects written by our wonderful new class of docents.
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Marianne Moore's typewriter came to the Rosenbach Museum & Library in 1972 through a bequest of the poet.  We previously believed that this typewriter might have been the one referenced by Moore as a gift from her friend Louise Crane and her mother in 1960, but we now think that it is a 1962 model.

Smith Corona, Coronet typewriter. 1962. 2006.2970.001
What is clear is the significant role that the typewriter played in Marianne Moore’s life and her poetic development. Moore’s first job in 1911, after taking secretarial courses herself at the Carlisle School in Pennsylvania, was teaching typing, stenography and commercial English at the Carlisle Indian School. She felt that the typewriter, as well as the sewing machine and telephone, helped American women to become “less servile,” and it certainly enabled her to document a broad and rich correspondence with family, friends and fellow artists who were shaping the modernist movement in America. Moore often kept carbon copies of letters she wrote to other writers and documented her correspondence and other documents with great care; over 3000 files in the Moore Collection here include exchanges over many years with Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, e.e. cummings, Wallace Stevens, T.S. Eliot, and many more. Her life-long use of the typewriter facilitated the preservation of an extraordinary personal and artistic history that, happily, we can access here at the Rosenbach Museum and Library.

Although she suggested in a 1960 interview with poet Donald Hall that the complex forms of her poems happened almost accidentally (“words cluster like chromosomes,” she claimed), her process was highly crafted. From material sources collected in notebooks, including anything from nature guides to magazine advertisements, she would select, arrange and splice lines which would then be used to compose on the typewriter, creating multiple carbons at one time. Each of these carbon copies might undergo up to seven re-workings, color-coded for rhyme scheme, until she achieved a final draft that met her exacting standard. The Rosenbach collection includes many of these drafts and setting copies for her 192 published and 72 unpublished poems.

The typewriter brought what was originally an oral art squarely into a visual, technical frame, and the way Moore’s poems play to the physical boundaries of the page and the importance of shapes in her poems--individual letters and the shapes of the poems themselves--reflect this evolution. She admitted in one interview that her line length was influenced as much by the rhythm of the typewriter as the number of syllables. We might imagine, over the span of such a prolific writing life, that the sound of those keys
tapping became as familiar as her own heart beat.

Cassie MacDonald  is a member of the Docent Training class 2012 and currently a docent apprentice. Her love of James Joyce and English Literature drew her to the Rosenbach’s collections