The approaching 400th anniversary of the death of the bibliophile Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn (18 March 1545–13 September 1617) provides the occasion for a note on the bindings supplied to his court library in Würzburg.1
Born at Schloß Mespelbrunn (Spessart), in Lower Franconia, Julius was the second son of Peter III Echter (1520–1576), a diplomat in the service of the Archbishop-Elector of Mainz, Kurmainzer Rat, and senior official in the neighbouring towns of Stadtprozelten and Dieburg, a cultured man, who possessed a library of more than 1700 volumes, including some in French and Italian.2Educated in Aschaffenburg, Würzburg, and Mainz, Julius matriculated in August 1558 at the newly-founded Jesuitengymnasium in Cologne, and thereafter commenced a peregrinatio academica taking him to universities in Mainz (1559–1561), Louvain (1561), Douai (1563), Paris (1566), Angers (1566), and Pavia, where in 1567 he was granted a licentia docendi in law.3
In memoriam John Bernard Bury † 18 January 2017
In a previous note, attention was drawn to the library assembled by the English court portraitist, Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680), for which no catalogue or inventory exists. For some artists of the Renaissance and Baroque personal catalogues and lists, inventories and testamentary documents do survive, and it is the purpose of the present note to provide an accessible list of the secondary literature.
The investigation of artists’ libraries in the early modern period has gathered pace in recent years, accelerated by burgeoning interest in ‘book culture’ as a field of study. The seminal survey of Jan Bialostocki from 1984 on the pictor doctus1has been supplemented by studies on artists’ reading practices raising an array of challenging questions: Which artists owned, or had access to extensive libraries? Did they read their books, or merely possess or collect them? What subjects did they consider pertinent, and how was the textual and visual knowledge gained from books used in the process of artistic production?2
Although the English court portraitist Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680) has long been renowned as a collector and connoisseur of old master paintings, drawings and prints,1 he is still virtually unknown as a bibliophile. A single book from Lely’s library was identified by Frederick Clarke, in 1893;2 another was reported by W.C. Hazlitt the next year;3 and subsequent literature has referred exclusively to a third volume, containing Fairfax’s translation of Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata (1624), bound with a collected edition of Spenser’s works (1617), which disappeared from view in the 1920s.4 Its return to the market, in June 2016, with Henry Sotheran Limited, followed by the reappearance of Lely’s Lomazzo (1598), in the Foxe Pointe Library sale (Sotheby’s, New York, 26 October 2016, lot 191), provide an occasion for these notes.