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About this collection

Art historian Julius S. Held (1905-2002), a longtime professor at Barnard College, Columbia University, was renowned for his scholarship in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish art. Many of the extraordinary books in this collection were collected for their illustrations by artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, Albrecht Dürer, and Anthony van Dyck. These books include works by Virgil and Ovid, versions of Aesop's fables, as well as titles on astronomy, religion, natural history, and anatomy dating from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century, in a range of languages, including Greek, Latin, German, Italian, English, and French. The collection also includes important art histories and early treatises on iconology and emblems. The Held library, which comprises more than 200 volumes, was acquired through combined purchase and gift in 2002.

 

Of note are books that form the working core of Dr. Held's scholarly collection. These texts hold Dr. Held's manuscript annotations and commentery concerning provenance and identification of illustrations present in the texts and appear on the inside of covers, as marginalia, and as end notes on fly leaves. Also included are separated ephemera comprised of Dr. Held's notes on images within the works, as well as letters, invitations, and annotated dealer's catalogs. A generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in 2014 has supported the digitization of 234 volumes. The digitized volumes include transcriptions of Dr. Held's annotations and accompanying notes, along with links pointing to those within the volumes.

 

The 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 practised today. Examples include Dr. Held's identification and description of eleven etchings by Salomon Savery (1594-1665) in Jan Hermansz. Krul's emblem book, Pampiere wereld, ofte, Wereldsche oeffeninge (1644); his descriptive notes containing a clarification on the identity of the engraved title page attributed to Rubens in Luitprandi Subdiaconi Toletani  Ticinensis Diaconi tandem Cremonensis Episcopi Opera quae extent. : Chronicon et adversaria nunc primum in lucem exeunt (1640) "actually, a reduced version, drawn by Quellinus of Pontius' print of Olivares after the oil-sketch in Brussels..."; and he assigns attributions to the engraved title page ("Cornelis Galle after Abraham van Diepenbeeck and Rubens") of Vitæ patrvm (1628) and engravings to Crispijn van der Passe in Emblemata Florentii Schoonhovii I. C. Goudani (1648). 

 

View list of titles from the Julius S. Held Collection of Rare Books in the Library's online catalog.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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