Monday, April 30, 2012

Provenance Detectives at HLS

[Here's an intriguing announcement, which reached us via H-Law.]

The Harvard Law School Library's Historical & Special Collections department is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit, Provenance Detectives: Revealing the History of Six Library Artifacts.

This exhibit highlights artifacts chosen for their fascinating and sometimes mysterious provenance, as well as their ability to illustrate the different paths provenance research takes. Artifacts include: a fourteenth-century Magna Carta; furniture used by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.; and a painting of Justice John Marshall by eminent portrait artist Chester Harding.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is an early printed volume of English statutes once owned by photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877). Included with the volume, on display for the first time since its provenance was discovered, is a leaf from the same volume that Talbot used to make a "photogenic drawing" of the text in 1839 - the year photography was born. Long thought lost by historians of photography, the volume was (re)discovered in 2004 by our HLS Library colleague Mary Person.

This exhibit was curated by HLS Library staff members Mary Person, Lesley Schoenfeld, and Carli Spina. It will be on view through August 12, 2012, in the Law Library's Caspersen Room in Langdell Hall. The Caspersen Room is open Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm. If you can't join us in person, please visit the exhibit online