The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Art

The Production of Whiteness in the Anglo-French Match (1625)

A guest post by Mira Assaf Kafantaris Meghan Markle’s incorporation into the British monarchy, and her subsequent departure from it, has thrown into high relief the ideologies of whiteness at the heart of royal European traditions. Even though the symbolism of her nuptials with Prince Harry was touted as the United Kingdom’s ultimate act of reconciliation with its brutal colonial past, Markle’s inclusion in the beau monde of white Britain remained conditional.… Continue Reading

The Pirates of H.M.S. Pinafore

The mystery man in the Crocodile Mystery image is the Englishman W.S. (William Schwenck) Gilbert, the librettist and playwright, in costume as King Claudius. Gilbert, along with composer Arthur Seymour Sullivan, created during the 19th century some of the most beloved and enduring works of comic opera, such as H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, and Ruddigore.… Continue Reading

New Acquisition: Photographs of an early 20th-century production of Hamlet in Japan

Welcome to a new regular series here on The Collation! Curatorial staff will be writing short pieces focusing on new acquisitions, hopefully giving our readers a glimpse into how we’re building our collections. Today, I’m excited to share a small set of photographs documenting a production of Hamlet that was performed in Japan in 1933. We acquired these photographs from Rose Counsell at Hozuki Books, whose apt description provides the basis for this short post.… Continue Reading

Fortune’s Fools: early tarot cards

As several of you guessed last week, this month’s crocodile mystery showed an early tarot card. When treating a copy of a 1673 edition of Vincent Reboul’s “Le Pelerinage de S. Maximin,” Folger conservators discovered two tarot cards used to reinforce its binding.  I came across these cards, which were given their own call numbers and catalog entry when they were removed, some years ago and snapped this photo.… Continue Reading

Liverpool delft transfer-printed tiles; or, theatrical tiles explain’d

Thank you for all of your guesses on last week’s Crocodile Mystery! As several folks correctly surmised, this image is pigment on ceramic! Specifically, it is on a Liverpool delft transfer-printed tile, seen here in full:  Jane Lessingham as Ophelia, ART 241098 And if you’re completely confused by the phrase “Liverpool delft transfer-printed tile”, well, I don’t blame you. So let’s break it down: “tile” is pretty self-evident.… Continue Reading

Creating John Gregory’s Bas Reliefs at the Folger

Who carved the John Gregory’s bas reliefs on the facade of the Folger? Readers of last week’s Collation post will know that the apparently obvious answer—John Gregory—is incorrect. Sculptor John Gregory (1879–1958) definitely created the works of art, but professional stone cutters chiselled away the marble until it exactly matched the plaster casts of Gregory’s full-size clay models. Carver on site at the Folger Shakespeare Library, 1931.… Continue Reading

Birdbrained

Thanks to everyone who took a guess on this month’s Crocodile Mystery! As several of you pointed out, the teaser image is of some breed of cockatoo or cockatiel. Although I usually know a hawk from a handsaw, I will leave questions about exactly which species or sub-family of Cacatuidae this artistic rendition is meant to represent to experts. The hand-colored print itself is an early- to mid-nineteenth-century lithograph of Act III, sc.… Continue Reading

The “Quartermaster’s Map” of England and Wales

Thanks for the excellent guesses on the identity of the August Crocodile Mystery! If you’ll permit me to indulge myself, I’ll prolong the suspense a little longer by showing some examples of what it might have been, but isn’t (and if you won’t permit me, no one’s stopping you from scrolling down now to read the answer). As several people pointed out, the tall and skinny binding is the sort of thing you’d expect for a ledger or some other kind of  financial account book.… Continue Reading

Words with pictures, or, What’s in a name?

One of the points I like to make when I teach the History of Printed Book Illustration at Rare Book School is that images and words affect each other. The course deliberately focuses on illustrations—that is, on pictures and text that comment on each other, and affect each other’s meaning. It’s not just the aesthetic design and choice of subject that create meaning in book illustration, it’s the relationship between the visual and the verbal elements.… Continue Reading

A late 15th-century tapestry fragment with visible restorations

Yes, indeed, the Folger collection item the March 2020 Crocodile Mystery is two-toned because of fading (and yes, indeed, it is a tapestry). Congratulations and thanks to Elisabeth, Ed, and Carolyn for their comments. The mystery wasn’t quite solved, though: the darker areas were not protected from light by being folded under or covered by something opaque, as was proposed in the comments.… Continue Reading