Christ Church Library Exhibitions

Despite being closed during the lockdown, research on the collections is in full swing, and we are more determined then ever to continue creating online tools allowing remote access to the treasures the Library houses. For news on events and work on Special collections during the lockdown, please follow us here.

News and events during the lockdown

An alchemist's Bible purchased for Christ Church Library in 1676

A closer look at the Christ Church 1608 edition of the so called 'Vizsoly Bible’ has revealed a very interesting story. This can be reconstructed by carefully examining the binding, current and previous shelfmarks, and by placing the information provided by the presentation notes in a wider context.

Wakefields at Christ Church

Hebrew studies have been part and parcel of academic life at Christ Church since the college was founded. Over the almost five hundred years, its teaching and research collections have grown substantially and number of notable Hebrew scholars have been associated with the college. Among them is Robert Wakefield (d. 1537/8) who became Regius Praelector of Hebrew at Christ Church in 1529 and three years later was appointed one of the founding canons of the college. Robert’s younger brother Thomas Wakefield (d. 1575) graduated BA at Cambridge. Brothers Wakefield Renaissance library may have been one of the greatest private collections of Hebraica in sixteenth-century England,

The Library in e-Matters

For the latest news on the Library front, please see the issue on 12 June 2020.

Tikkun Leil Shavuot

Christ Church Library has a beautiful copy of an eighteenth century Torah scroll that was probably made for use in a Central European synagogue. The scroll contains the entire Torah and comes with two wooden rollers and embroidered velvet mantle. The size of the scroll is truly impressive, as well as the work that the scribe has invested in writing it but also the decorations of the woodwork and embroidery are telling of the importance of the object.

Unexpected cultural encounters at Christ Church

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Christ Church was always, one way or another, part of a cultural exchange between the Levant and England. The interest was reciprocated by the Orthodox Church. A letter from Dositheos, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, to Archbishop Wake (letter 17 in voume 23 of Wake's collected correspondence in Christ Church Library) reveals his intention to visit Oxford.

In search of lost manuscripts

The Library has recently digitised MS 689 (aka Mus 1295), an intriguing fragment from a fifteenth-century Roman Missal donated by Paul Lewis, father of Jonathan W. Lewis (Christ Church, 1991). At the time, the intention was to follow the matter through and see if any more of the manuscript came to light. Sadly, despite our efforts so far, we never did find any sign of more of it. By digitising this incomplete manuscript now, the hope is that scholars might trace other pages scattered throughout collections elsewhere in the world, adding more substance to the extant fragment, even if only virtually.

Hey, This isn't a Doubloon!

Sermons were exceedingly common, and, in my own experience, a sermon, today, is one of the most likely of pamphlets to be found in a state with its leaves never trimmed or even unopened. This particular sermon, however, was read, and the evidence of its travels creates a further link between events and places not otherwise immediately connected in a historical context.

Levantine echoes in Christ Church Library

In volume No.26, among Archbishop Wake’s private correspondence, there are 20 letters pointing to the Levantine provenance of some of the Byzantine manuscripts and several of the printed books in his collections.

Scores from the music collection in performance

Among the treasures of the music collection are 28 rare Italian prints calling for chitarrone or tiorba as a continuo instrument. For the benefit of any readers or researchers curious about this instrument, here is a link to a short video by Lynda Sayce, which covers the history of the Renaissance lute, up to and including the chitarrone.

Jewish Treasures from Oxford Libraries

Christ Church Library is pleased to announce the publication of a volume including an important contribution by Dr Rahel Fronda, who has been working on the prestigious collection of Hebrew early printed books and manuscripts at Christ Church.

 

Previous exhibitions and events

From Lexicography to the Irrational: Liddell and Scott and E.R. Dodds

A new exhibition will open in the Upper Library at Christ Church on 5 December 2019, at 5:30 pm. The event will be launching two books published by Oxford University Press: Liddell & Scott, edited by Christopher Stray, Michael Clarke and Joshua T. Katz; and Rediscovering E. R. Dodds, edited by Christopher Stray, Christopher Pelling and Stephen Harrison.

Nature within the Pages: Flora, Fauna, Anatomy and the rest of the World (17 May-30 November 2019)

This exhibition explores the illustration and explanation of the Natural World, from imaginative interpretations of hyenas and hedgehogs, to engravings of wind, and even through the microscope for a closer look at ‘animalcules’. See how illustrations have been used to assist in the spread of knowledge in the Natural Sciences and the important role they played in a time before photography.

Thinking 3D: The Mathematics of Space (20 February-10th May 2019)

"The Mathematics of Space" at Christ Church is part of the "Thinking 3D" series of events organised in the UK during 2018-2019. This is a project focused on the development of techniques and technologies used to communicate three-dimensional forms in two-dimensional media. The exhibition at Christ Church aimed to highlight the role of the college in teaching geometry and astronomy at Oxford during the 17th and 18th centuries. Thematically, it mainly focused on exploring the impact of Euclid, Archimedes, Serenus and Pappus of Alexandria on both art and early modern geometry. Also on show in the Upper Library were treatises on the study of perspective by Luca Pacioli, Jean François Nicéron, Joseph Moxon and Albrecht Dürer, as well as manuscripts by early modern mathematicians like David Gregory, Charles Scarborough, Willebrord Snell, Nicolas Mercator and Edmund Halley.

Winckelmann and Curiosity in the 18th-Century Gentleman's Library (29 June-30 November 2018)

To commemorate the Winckelmann anniversaries 2017/2018, Christ Church Library prepared an exhibition and series of events in collaboration with the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, University of Reading and the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford. The exhibition explored the German scholar's varied influence on the arts in Britain, through printed media and decorative arts.
 

Temporary exhibition in the Upper Library (26-28 September 2018)

Sir Dimitri Obolensky FBA ( 1918-2001)
Professor of Russian and Balkan History 1961-1985

The Centenary of Dimitri Obolensky, one of the most distinguished Oxford historians of recent times is being celebrated in Christ Church Upper Library by an exhibition drawn from his recently catalogued papers. It was opened by the Dean of Christ Church the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy and other speakers at 5-30 on Wednesday 26th September. On the following two days an international conference took place at Worcester College on the themes and importance now of his major work ‘The Byzantine Commonwealth’.

Singing Books: Text, Object and Song in the International Madrigal (8 March - 22 June 2018)

Christ Church has one of the finest collections of English and Italian madrigals in the world and a history of music-making within the library. It is the perfect site for this combined exhibition and concert series which explores the relationship between madrigal music, words and the physical objects of music scores in the library's historic collections.

More than a House for Books (2 November 2017 - 23 February 2018)

The exhibition curated by David Rundle and Cristina Neagu considered the place of the Western manuscripts within the wider context of the Library’s eclectic riches. It delineateed how what we now know as its ‘special collections’ came to be owned by Christ Church and considered what that tells us about the purpose and scope of a library.

Jewish Books and their Christian Readers: Christ Church Connections (22 May - 20 October 2017)

The EAJS conference Jewish Books and their Christian Collectors in Europe, the New World and Czarist Russia launched a major exhibition, Jewish Books and their Christian Readers: Christ Church Connections, curated by Dr Rahel Fronda, displaying the wealth of Hebraica and Judaica at Christ Church and around, following the story of Hebrew studies in Oxford from the late 16th century until the end of 18th century. The exhibition was accompanied by a detailed scholarly catalogue in print. This exhibition has benefited from the generous collaboration of the Bodleian Library, Oxford Conservation Consortium, Lincoln College, Merton College, Queens' College in Cambridge, as well as the Westminster Abbey.

The Miniature Stage - 19th Century English Toy Theatre in Christ Church Collections (returning to the Library in Hilary Term 2017)

Among the many treasures of Christ Church Library is a very little known, but extraordinarily valuable and huge collection of theatrical ephemera donated by Francis Bridgford Brady in 1977. Containing tens of thousands of items ranging in date from the 17th to 20th centuries, the collection spans a range of theatrical and entertainment subjects and is an invaluable primary resource for entertainment and wider social history. The exhibition re-opened on 23 January 2017.

Hakluyt@400 Exhibition and Events

As Hakluyt’s old college, Christ Church Library was a key site for this commemorative series and made a distinctive contribution to it. Events started with the opening of the exhibition Hakluyt and Geography in Oxford 1550–1650. This exhibition was launched on 14 October 2016 with a symposium at Christ Church on Renaissance scientific instruments. In November, events included workshops on scientific instruments from the Christ Church collection by Dr Allan Chapman and Dr Johnston; plus, a two-day international conference, Hakluyt and the Discovery of the World, on 24 November at Christ Church, and on 25 November at the Bodleian Library.

Tudor Partbooks and the Music Collection

From 12 May 2016, a selection of Oxford’s early music treasures were on display in the spectacular Upper Library at Christ Church. This special exhibition showcased the music-books used by singers in the age of Queen Elizabeth I, with special emphasis placed on partbooks – matching sets of volumes in which each singer views only her or his own voice-part.

Beazley and Christ Church - 250 Years of Scholarship on Greek Vases

The exhibition presented Sir John Beazley's work and assessed his lasting influence on the study of ancient Greek pottery. The exhibition was open from 26 January to 3 May 2016.

Robert Hooke's Micrographia and Christ Church Science, 1650-1670

Running from 5 November 2015 to 15 January 2016, to mark the 350th anniversary of the publication of Robert Hooke's Micrographia, the first book of microscopy. The event was organized at Christ Church, where Hooke was an undergraduate from 1653 to 1658.

Lewis Carroll and the Art of Photography

During summer of 2015, Christ Church Library hosted an exhibition of Lewis Carroll photographs. This exhibition navigated the medium's early history, bringing together a selection of photographs from the Library's archives, as well as (on loan) from an extensive private collection.

Copper Impressions: Printmakers and Publishing in the 18th Century

The exhibition illustrated what might have been printed on a wooden intaglio rolling press that was located in the Upper Library.