The Giorgio Cini Foundation, on the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, wishes to highlight its significant heritage by putting on an exhibit of the best of its collection of 15th- and 16th-century rare, illustrated books (open April 7 to July 4 2010). These are displayed in one of the rooms of the newly renovated library (the “Nuova Manica Lunga”) which was previously a monks’ dormitory (how apt for a silent space).


The exhibition has a twofold itinerary organised according to theme and collectors, set up in six wooden cases. These are all illustrated printed books, which makes the exhibit special because when you’re actually researching, it can be quite hard to find which edition is illustrated. There are religious texts including a magnificent one printed on vellum (the material usually used for manuscripts, not print) and a miniature hours of Mary. A number of illustrated Aesops Fables are a lot of fun; one hand coloured, another open to a story of a woman making love to a donkey (the donkey worries about not injuring her with his deep claws). Another display is of illustrated travel books, including one aptly of Venice.

Here is a photo gallery of the books. A catalogue will soon be published.

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