Ø Martin Bodmer Foundation, Cologny, Geneva. 08 August– 27 August 2006.




Origins and early days of printed ex-libris

An exhibition in the making


In this peerless and world-famous library on the outskirts of Geneva, of which the new core exhibition building was built by Mario Botta and inaugurated in 2005, an attempt was made to go back to the origins of printed bookplates - even if  much research is still to be done.


It was the first time that illuminated manuscripts were shown in parallell with printed bookplates. The works exhibited were lent by public institutions (Geneva University and Public Library, Bodmer Foundation) and from private collections (P. Becker, J. Burch, S. Hausherr, B. Junod, K. Witte, etc.)


As it was not possible to bring major museum pieces from abroad, photographic material as to the Egyptian, Sumerian and Visigothic material was concerned.  Viewers dicovered how in the Middle Ages the indication of the owner - usually his coat-of-arms - was integrated into manuscript illumination, whence it became 'autonomous as prints. A wide selection of the earliest printed bookplates was shown (1470-1620), in particular those by the great masters of engraving such as Dürer, Cranach, Jost Ammann and the 'Little'Masters, and in particular rare hand-coloured prints.


Visitors were fascinated by the Bodmer museum itself - get a glimpse by visiting http://www.fondationbodmer.org/


The text which was prepared for the show and contained in a folder can be read by clicking here, or downloaded as a .pdf. file


click on the images to enlarge them. More images will be added soon...


Ex-libris of Amenophis III
Courtesy British Museum
Christine de Pisan, Epistle of Othea c. 1460 Arms of Antoine, Bastard of Burgundy Courtesy Bodmer Foundation Eusebius
Courtesy BPU Geneva

Hildebrand Brandenburg, ex-dono for books given to the Charterhouse of Buxheim, c. 1480
Sebastian Schedel, overwriting Melchior Schedel. Jost Ammann, c. 1570
Herodotus, Historiae Libri IX 1566, Geneva Courtesy Bodmer Foundation