Picturing Knowledge and Curiosities: Venetian Renaissance Illustrated Books in Special Collections

February – April 2017

Foyer display in Special Collections, level 12 of the University of Glasgow Library

Curated by Rose Z. King, former History of Art postgraduate work placement and Special Collections voluntary intern.

One output of the research project, Venice in Scotland, is an exhibition of illustrated Venetian books at the University of Glasgow library. The library holds over 600 sixteenth- to seventeenth- century Venetian books, of which around 30% are illustrated, and several also contain hand-illuminated printed texts. The illustrators of these books are seldom known, one exception being a woodcut in the sixteenth-century book, Doni: I mondi del Doni, which is attributed to Titian.

Doni: I mondi del Doni (1552)
Woodcut attributed to Titian (Sp Coll SM 399)

The illustrations of Venetian books in Scottish collections have largely been neglected in past research. The exhibition, which displays some of the more unusual illustrated books found, including a book on fortune telling and one on Egyptology, represents part of the project’s mission to remedy this lack of awareness. What has become clear in the surveys preceding the exhibition is that University of Glasgow Special Collections holds a significant number of well-preserved, high quality illustrated Venetian books, which bodes well for future research.

More information on the exhibition can be found here: