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16 oct. 2020-16 mai 2021, New York : Poetry and Patronage : The Laubespine-Villeroy Library Rediscovered

From now through May 16, the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City presents “Poetry and Patronage : The Laubespine-Villeroy Library Rediscovered.” The exhibition brings together, for the first time in almost 450 years, some of the most spectacular bindings from the library of Claude III de Laubespine, one of the great but little-known bibliophiles of the French Renaissance.

During the Renaissance, manuscript and printed books and their fine bindings were symbols of the wealthy and cultured. Claude III de Laubespine (1545-1570) met all the criteria. He was a member of an influential family, many of whom held high offices during the reigns of French kings Henry II and Charles IX. His father, Claude II, played an important role in both domestic and foreign policy and was a chief advisor to Catherine de Medici, mother of Charles IX. Claude II, a secretary of state, married into a rich and cultivated family, thus acquiring several homes. Other members of his family were also holders of important posts.

Claude III de Laubespine built an extensive library, of which poetry was only one facet, and he patronized the leading bookbinders of the Renaissance, whose workshops were creating the finest bindings in France. Some of those shops had also worked for Jean Grolier (1479-1565), the famed Treasurer-General of France whose library has gained international renown. Laubespine’s great credibility in the bibliosphere, although rivaling that of Grolier, has not been recognized until now.

A simple explanation for the disparity is that Grolier’s books were clearly identified with his name and crest, but Laubespine’s were not. Identifying his books and tracing their fate was difficult and not finally resolved until this exhibition.

In 1993, Isabelle de Conihout, guest curator for this exhibition, became intrigued and began her quest to establish the scope and fate of the dispersed collection as she located as many books as possible. She invested years of research and travel to numerous libraries in Europe and around the United States to first understand the scope of his collection, research the material, and then gather it for this exhibit. She has contributed a major essay to the catalog that accompanies the exhibition.

Lieu : Thaw Gallery, The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City

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