Julius S. Held Collection of Rare Books

ABOUT THE COLLECTION AND THE COLLECTOR


Art historian Julius S. Held (1905–2002), professor at Barnard College, Columbia University from 1937 to 1970, was renowned for his scholarship in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish art. After “retiring” from teaching at Barnard, Professor Held continued to teach in the Clark/Williams Graduate Program in the History of Art.

A member of the enormously influential generation of German-trained art historians that included Erwin Panofsky, Max Friedlander, and Millard Meiss, Dr. Held's scholarship and teaching were noted for a wide-ranging approach that included the study of social history, analysis of iconography, and exacting connoisseurship. 

Many of the extraordinary books in his collection were acquired for their illustrations by artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, Albrecht Dürer, and Anthony van Dyck. The collection is also rich in books by noted printers, such as Plantin Press and Elsevier. An intersection of Dr. Held’s interests in Rubens and books can be seen in his selection of books with title pages designed by the artist, one of which (from Opticorum Libri Sex) can be seen below.

The subject matter is wide-ranging and eclectic in scope, including works by Virgil and Ovid and versions of Aesop's fables as well as titles on astronomy, religion, natural history, and anatomy dating from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century. The equally comprehensive range of languages includes Greek, Latin, German, Italian, English, and French. The collection includes important art histories and early treatises on iconology and emblems.

Of note are books that form the working core of Dr. Held's scholarly collection, many of which contain his handwritten annotations and commentary concerning provenance and identification of illustrations present in the texts. Also included in the Julius S. Held Collection are notes, letters, annotated dealers' catalogs, and other ephemera that had been placed in the books. These annotations, commentary, and ephemera provide a unique glimpse into the activities of an important scholar and his relationship to his books, as well as a view of a bibliographic tradition rarely practiced today.

The Held library, which is composed of more than 200 volumes, was acquired through combined purchase and gift in 2002.


THE SCIENCES
The proliferation of printed books, especially in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, aided the dissemination of knowledge across Europe. The sciences, in particular, benefited from graphically illustrated samples taken from nature. The Held Collection includes examples from a variety of disciplines, including zoology, entomology, astronomy, and anatomy. 


NATURAL HISTORY/ENTOMOLOGY
A jewel in the crown of the Held collection is James Barbut's Les genres des insectes de Linné, with its exquisite images of the insects of England. The text is in places equally enchanting, as in this passage about a newly emerged butterfly: “...it gently flutters, then takes its flight and pursues its mazy wanderings over the enamelled meads, plunging its rostrum into the cups of nectareous flowers. The sweets with which it is inebriated seem to give it more sprightliness, more fire, more activity and nimbleness....No sooner has he gathered the essence of delight, but away he darts to taste elsewhere the sweets of novelty and inconstancy!” The mantis and grasshoppers depicted below are slightly less romantic but equally captivating.
 


Barbut, James.  Les genres des insectes de Linné; constatés par divers échantillons d'insectes d'Angleterre, copiés d'après nature.  (Londres : Imprimé par J. Dixwell et se vend l'auteur chez J. Sewell, 1781)


ZOOLOGY
Another fascinating work of natural history is Gesner's Medici Tigurini Historiae Animalium, a work on creatures of the sea and seashore, lavishly illustrated with woodcuts. In addition to recognizable fish, shells, and mollusks, such as the octopus below, there are more fanciful illustrations—perhaps based on sailors' descriptions—of mermaids, a seven-headed hydra, a monkfish in full ecclesiastical regalia, spouting whales, and other marine wonders, several of which can be seen in the sidebar at right.


Gesner, Konrad.  Conradi Gesneri medici Tigurini Historiæ animalium liber IIII : qui est de Piscium & aquatilium animantium natura : cum iconibus singulorum ad uiuum expressis fere omnib. DCCVI. : continentur in hoc uolumine Gulielmi Rondeletij quoq[ue] medicinæ professoris regij in Schola Monspeliensi et Petri Bellonij Cenomanti, medici hoc tempore Lutetiæ eximij, de aquatilium singulis scripta.  (Tiguri : Apud Christoph. Froschouerum, 1558)


MEDICINE/HEALTH
The Held Collection contains numerous illustrated books on the related sciences of anatomy and medicine. In the image below, the physician gestures approvingly toward the strong, athletic woman striding confidently forward, while skewering with his caduesis the drunken, dissipated woman lying on the ground at his feet. In the background, athletes demonstrate their strength and skill.


Mercuriale, Girolamo. Hieronymi Mercurialis Foroliviensis De arte gymnastica libri sex : in quibus exercitationum omnium vetustarum genera, loca, modi, facultates, & quidquid denique ad corporis humani exercitationes pertinet diligenter explicatur.  Editio nouissima, aucta, emendata, & figuris authenticis Christophori Coriolani exornata.  (Amstelodami : sumptibus Andreae Frisii, 1672)


OPTICS
One of the treasures of the Held collection, Opticorum libri sex unfolds, in six books, the science of optics. Each of the six books contains an initial illustration; these are delightfully playful, with putti busily exploring and learning the subject (see the sidebar at right for two putti examining the eye socket of the head of a cyclops!) The splendid title page below, by Rubens, contains myriad images that symbolize seeing, illumination, and the study of optics; the eyes in a peacock's feathers, the heads of Argus and the Medusa, lamp flames, and scientific instruments are revealed.


Aguilón, François de.  Opticorum libri sex : philosophiis juxtà ac mathematicis utiles.  Francisci Aguilonii.  (Antverpiæ : Ex officina Plantiniana, apud Viduam et filios J. Moreti, 1613)


ANATOMY
Dürer's studies illustrate the intersection of art and anatomy. His sketches show the measurements and proportions needed to translate the knowledge of anatomy into accurate representations of the human figure.


Dürer, Albrecht.  Alberti Dureri Clarissimi pictoris et geometrae de symmetria partium in rectis formis humanorum corporum.  Libri in Latinum conuersi...  ([Norimbergae : In aedib. viduae Durerianae, 1532-1534])


EMBLEM BOOKS
Around the beginning of the sixteenth century, new symbolic forms were being invented or perhaps rediscovered, variously called imprese, emblems, iconologies, symbologies, hieroglyphs, symbola, or icones. They constitute a systematic program of composing, compiling, transposing, and recording allegorical imagery. More than 2,000 titles of printed books survive, and these are only part of the surviving legacy of a phenomenon that decorated every aspect of European Renaissance and Baroque domestic and civil life. The emblem consists of three parts: a motto, a picture, and an explanatory text. Within this framework, emblems can have many diverse forms and parts. The Julius Held collection includes many important examples of emblem books, including the three below.


Cats, Jacob.  Alle de wercken van den Heere Jacob Cats... De laatste druck; waar in het Twee-en-tachtig jaarig leeven des dichters, beneffens desselfs Slaapeloose nachten, printverbeeldingen sijn verrijkt.  (Amsterdam : J. Ratelband; [etc.], 1712)




Veen, Otto van.  Amoris diuini emblemata.  Studio et aere Othonis VaenI concinnata.  (Antuerpiae : Ex officina Martini NutI & Ioannis MeursI, 1615)



Hoffer, Adriaan.  Nederduytsche poëmata.  Van Adrianvs Hoffervs zirizævs....  (t'Amsterdam : By Broer Jansz., 1635)


FABLES AND MYTHOLOGY
Julius Held’s collection of illustrated fables and myths, in addition to being beautiful, cleverly illustrated works of art, are representative of important documents for the mores of the time and of study books for period iconography.

In Aesop's fable Cupid and Death, Cupid and Death exchange arrows, to disastrous effect: the old people that Death shoots fling aside their crutches and fall in love, and the young people that Cupid shoots die.


Ogilby, John. The fables of Aesop paraphras'd in verse : adorn'd with sculpture, and illustrated with annotations...  The second edition.  (London : Printed by Thomas Roycroft, 1668)



Ovid.  Les Metamorphoses d'Ovide : tradvites en prose francoise, & de nouueau soigneusement reueuës, corrigées. Avec qvinze dicovrs, contenant l'explication morale des fables. Ensemble quelques epistres traduites d'Ouide, & diuers autres traitez, dont cette impression a esté augmentée. Enrichies de nouueaux desseins, & de figures en taille-douce. Dediees a Madame de Lanssac. (Paris, Chez Evstache Davbin, 1640)



Verdizotti, Giovanni Mario.  Cento favole bellissime : dei più illustri antichi, e moderni autori Greci e Latini.  (Venetia : Per Francesco Ginammi, 1661)


HISTORY
This image from Heraeus’s Annales ducum seu principum Brabantiae conveys some of the political and religious power of the dynasty of the duke and duchess of Brabant. Begga was the daughter of Pipijn van Landen, first duke of Brabant, and Ida of Nijvel, who was later declared a saint; she married Ansegisus, son of Arnoldus van Metz who also was granted sainthood. Their son, Pepijn van Herstal, founded the Carolingian empire and was the grandfather of Charlemagne.
 


Haraeus, Franciscus.  Francisci Haraei Annales ducum seu principum Brabantiae totiusq. Belgii : btomi tres : quorum primo solius Brabantiae, secundo Belgii vniti principum res gestae, tertio belgici tumultus, vsque ad inducias anno M. DC. IX. pactas, enarrantur : cum ducum seu principum imaginibus, et breui rerum per omnem Europam illustrium narratione.  (Antverpiae : ex officina Plantiniana apud B. Moretum et viduam I. Moreti et I. Meursium, 1623) 


TRAVEL
Illustrated travel books enabled people to experience sites and cultures beyond their orbit in time and space, whether exotic locales such as China or Syria, vestiges of the ancient world in Rome, picturesque places closer to home such as Holland, or the décor of contemporary royal residences. 


Gedenkwaerdig bedryf der Nederlandsche Oost-Indische Maetschappye, op de kuste en in het keizerrijk van Taising of Sina...  Pieter van Hoorn : beneffens een beschryving van geheel Sina : verceirt doorgaens met verscheide kopere platen / beschreven door Dr. O. Dapper.  (Amsterdam : by Jacob van Muers, op de Keifers-gracht, Stadt Meurs, 1670)



Du Pérac, Etienne.  I vestigi dell'antichità di Roma.  Raccolti et ritratti in perspettiva con ogni diligentia da Stefano dv Perac Parisino ; all' ill.mo et eccell.mo sig. il sig. Giacomo Bvoncompagni governator generale di Santa Chiesa.  (Roma : appresso Gottifredo de Scaichi, 1621)



Ireland, Samuel.  A picturesque tour through Holland, Brabant, and part of France ; made in the autumn of 1789.  Illustrated with copper plates in aqua tinta from drawings on the spot by Samuel Ireland.  (London : Printed for T. & I. Egerton, 1790)



Rubens, Peter Paul, Sir.  La Gallerie du Palais du Luxembourg.  Peinte par Rubens, dessinée par les Sr. Nattier, et gravée par les plus illustres graveurs du temps...  (Paris : Duchange, 1710)

Explore the Collection

Julius S. Held’s bookplate is an image of Janus, the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, one old and one young. One face looks to the future and the other to the past.
Agostini, Leonardo.  Gemmae et sculpturae antiquae depictae, ab Leonardo Augustino Senensi addita earum enarratione, in Latinum versa, ab Jacobo Gronovio, cujus accedit praefatio.  Editio secunda.  (Franequerae, Apud Leonardum Strik, 1694)
Michel, Jean François Marie.  Historische levensbeschryving van Petrus Paulus Rubbens, ridder, heere van den steen &c. : verrykt met veele gewigtige byzonderheden...  (Amsterdam : Johannes Smit, 1774)
Valturio, Roberto, 1405–1475. En tibi lector Robertum Valturium... De re militari libris XII : multò emaculatius, ac picturis, quae plurimae in eo sunt, elegantioribus expressum, quàm cùm Veronae... anno M.cccclxxxiii. inuulgaretur.  (Parisiis : Apud Christianum Wechelum..., 1534)
Gesner, Konrad.  Conradi Gesneri medici Tigurini Historiæ animalium liber IIII : qui est de Piscium & aquatilium animantium natura...  (Tiguri : Apud Christoph. Froschouerum, 1558)
Ogilby, John, 1600–1676. The fables of Aesop paraphras'd in verse : adorn'd with sculpture, and illustrated with annotations. The second edition.  (London : Printed by Thomas Roycroft, 1668)
Schoonhoven, Florens. Emblemata Florentii Schoonhovii I. C. Goudani : partim moralia partim etiam civilia. Cum latiori eorundem ejusdem auctoris interpretatione. Accedunt et alia quædam Poëmatia in alijs poematum suorum libris non contenta. (Amstelodami : Apud Joannem Janssonium, 1648)
Aguilón, François de. Opticorum libri sex : philosophiis juxtà ac mathematicis utiles.  Francisci Aguilonii.  (Antverpiæ : Ex officina Plantiniana, apud Viduam et filios J. Moreti, 1613)
Carracci, Annibale.  Diverse figure al nvmero di ottanta.  Disegnate di penna, nell'hore di ricreatione, da Annibale Carracci intagliate in rame, e cavate dagli originali, da Simone Guilino Parigino per utile di tvtti li virtvosi, et intendenti, della professione della pittura, e del disegno.  (Roma : Nella Stamperia di Lodovico Grigniani, [1646])
Schoonhoven, Florens. Emblemata Florentii Schoonhovii I. C. Goudani : partim moralia partim etiam civilia. Cum latiori eorundem ejusdem auctoris interpretatione. Accedunt et alia quædam Poëmatia in alijs poematum suorum libris non contenta. (Amstelodami : Apud Joannem Janssonium, 1648)
Ogilby, John, 1600–1676. The fables of Aesop paraphras'd in verse : adorn'd with sculpture, and illustrated with annotations. The second edition.  (London : Printed by Thomas Roycroft, 1668)
Giovio, Paolo. Dialogo dell'imprese militari et amorose. Di monsignor Giouio vescouo di Nocera ; et del S. Gabriel Symeoni Fiorentino ; con vn Ragionamento di M. Lodouico Domenichi, nel medesimo soggetto... (Lyone : Appresso Guglielmo Rouillio, 1574)
Arnaud, F. (Franðcois). Description des principales pierres gravées du cabinet de S. A. S. Monseigneur le duc d'Orléans, premier prince du sang... (Paris : Chez M. l'abbe La Chau... M. l'abbe Le Blond : et chez Pissot..., 1780-84)
Gesner, Konrad.  Conradi Gesneri medici Tigurini Historiæ animalium liber IIII : qui est de Piscium & aquatilium animantium natura...  (Tiguri : Apud Christoph. Froschouerum, 1558)
Porta, Giambattista della. — Della fisionomia dell'huomo / del Signor Giovanbattista della Porta... (Venetia : Presso C. Tomasini, 1644)
Barbut, James.  Les genres des insectes de Linné; constatés par divers échantillons d'insectes d'Angleterre, copiés d'après nature.  (Londres : Imprimé par J. Dixwell et se vend l'auteur chez J. Sewell, 1781)
Gedenkwaerdig bedryf der Nederlandsche Oost-Indische Maetschappye, op de kuste en in het keizerrijk van Taising of Sina...  Pieter van Hoorn : beneffens een beschryving van geheel Sina : verceirt doorgaens met verscheide kopere platen / beschreven door Dr. O. Dapper.  (Amsterdam : by Jacob van Muers, op de Keifers-gracht, Stadt Meurs, 1670)
Krauss, Johann Ulric.  Biblisches Engel- u. Kunst Werck : alles das jenige, was in heiliger göttlicher Schrifft Altes und Neuen Testaments von den heiligen Engels Gottes... zu finden ist... in zierlichen Kupffern, mit beygefüngten teutschen Erklärungs und Andachs-Reimen vorstellend.   Mit Fleiss zusammen getragen in Kupffer gestochen und verlegt von Johann Ulrich Krauss.  (Augspurg : [s.n.], 1705)
Gesner, Konrad.  Conradi Gesneri medici Tigurini Historiæ animalium liber IIII : qui est de Piscium & aquatilium animantium natura...  (Tiguri : Apud Christoph. Froschouerum, 1558)
Hoffer, Adriaan.  Nederduytsche poëmata.  van Adrianvs Hoffervs zirizævs.... (Amsterdam : By Broer Jansz., 1635)
Sadeler, Ægidius.  Symbola divina & humana pontificum, imperatorum, regum -- Symbola diuina & humana pontificvm, imperatorum, regum.  Ex musæo Octavii de Strada civis Romani ; S.C.M. scvlptor Egidius Sadeler excv. Pragæ 1600. (Prague : [s.n., c1600])
Indagine, Joannes.  Die Kunst der Chiromantzey : vsz Besehung der Hend. Physiognomey / vsz Anblick des Menschens. Natürlichen Astrologey noch dem Lauff der Soñen....  Zusamen verordnet / vnd verteütscht durch... / Joannem Indagine. ([Getruckt zu Straszburg : durch Joannem Schott, 1523])
Ireland, Samuel.  A picturesque tour through Holland, Brabant, and part of France ; made in the autumn of 1789.  Illustrated with copper plates in aqua tinta from drawings on the spot by Samuel Ireland.  (London : Printed for T. & I. Egerton, 1790)
[Annotated: "Nettune"] Guevara, Antonio de.  Libro di Marco Avrelio con l'horologio de' principi : distinto in qvattro volvmi.  Composto per il molto reverendo Signor Don Antonio di Gueuara...  (Venetia : Appresso Francesco Portonaris, 1571)
Gesner, Konrad.  Conradi Gesneri medici Tigurini Historiæ animalium liber IIII : qui est de Piscium & aquatilium animantium natura...  (Tiguri : Apud Christoph. Froschouerum, 1558)
Cats, Jacob.  Spiegel van den Ouden en Nieuwen Tydt, : bestaande uyt spreekwoorden, ontleent van de voorige en jegenwoordige eeuwe, verlustiget door meenigte van sinnebeelden, met gedichten en prenten daar op passende...  Door J. Cats.  Den lesten druk, van nieuws oversien en gecorrigeert, en van vell drukfauten verbetert.  (Amsterdam : By Abraham van der Putte..., [169-])
Sadeler, Ægidius.  Symbola divina & humana pontificum, imperatorum, regum -- Symbola diuina & humana pontificvm, imperatorum, regum.  Ex musæo Octavii de Strada civis Romani ; S.C.M. scvlptor Egidius Sadeler excv. Pragæ 1600. (Prague : [s.n., c1600])
Haraeus, Franciscus.  Francisci Haraei Annales ducum seu principum Brabantiae totiusq.  (Antverpiae : ex officina Plantiniana apud B. Moretum et viduam I. Moreti et I. Meursium, 1623)
Gesner, Konrad.  Conradi Gesneri medici Tigurini Historiæ animalium liber IIII : qui est de Piscium & aquatilium animantium natura...  (Tiguri : Apud Christoph. Froschouerum, 1558)