Folger Library Exhibit
500 Years of Treasures from Oxford
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
The Chesapeake Chapter visited the Folger Shakespeare Library for a tour of their exhibit 500 Years of Treasures from Oxford, on Wednesday, April 12th, at 12:00 noon. The tour was led by Chesapeake Chapter member Caroline Duroselle-Melish, who is also the Curatorial Advisor, and Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Early Modern Books and Prints at the Folger.
The exhibit marks the 500th anniversary of Corpus Christi College, one of the oldest of the 38 self-governing colleges at the modern University of Oxford, and consists of a selection of fifty manuscripts and early printed books from its celebrated library. They range in date from the 10th to the 17th centuries and this is the first time they have been brought to America.
Focusing on the first hundred years of the College’s existence, the exhibition presents books which reflect the mission of the college, which was to pursue Humanist ideals of scholarship in three languages: Latin, Greek and Hebrew, the original languages of the Bible, along with such other subjects as Astronomy, Mathematics, Medicine, and Philosophy. Most notable among them are a group that has been called “the most important collection of Anglo-Jewish manuscripts in the world”; these works of the 12th and 13th centuries include a series of volumes apparently commissioned by Christians from Jews, from which to learn Hebrew and study biblical texts in their original language, as well as the commentaries of Rashi and what is thought to be the oldest surviving Ashkenazi prayer book.
Highlighting the college’s role in the development of science and medicine at Oxford, the exhibit includes a series of ground-breaking works, from Galileo’s first observation of the moon using a telescope and Sir Isaac Newton’s autograph observations of Halley’s comet to Hooke’s observations of insects using a microscope and Vesalius’ studies of the human body.