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What’s New with Pietro da Cortona’s “The Triumph of David”?

Intriguing developments about “The Triumph of David” have occurred since our previous blog post about this Cortona painting. The painting has been completely cleaned and, over the Memorial Day weekend, varnished. And, most impressive, Anthony Lagalante, PhD, associate professor, Dept. of Chemistry, received a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation for technical analysis of the artwork. Dr. Lagalante received the notification and a check for $24,000 at the end of May.

Although varnishing is normally the final step in the creation of an oil painting, the conservator, Kristin de Ghetaldi, explains, “We always put a thin ‘isolation’ coat of varnish on the surface of paintings after we have removed as much of the unoriginal restoration as we are able. This helps to bring back some of the saturation but also serves as a barrier layer between the original surface and any materials that we then add (fills, inpainting, etc.).”

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Areas with gouache viewable on painting’s bottom right.

Currently the interns, volunteers and de Ghetaldi are filling areas of paint loss and toning the fills with red gouache (gouache is opaque watercolor paint) to simulate the original ground of “The Triumph of David.” To observe the conservators in action, visit the Reading Room in Falvey Hall (aka Old Falvey) or watch the live feed. The conservators are happy to answer questions about their work.

For more information about the conservation project – “About the Restoration;” the Kress award; biographies of the conservation team; the chemistry of the painting; a biography of the donor, Princess Eugenia Ruspoli (1861-1951, born Jennie Berry in Alabama); and more – go to projects.library.villanova.edu/paintingrestoration/ or from Falvey’s homepage, click “Projects” and scroll to “Conserving a Giant …”

For more information about the artist, Pietro da Cortona, see “Dig Deeper: About the artist Pietro da Cortona.”


imagesArticle by Alice Bampton, digital image specialist and senior writer on the Communication and Service Promotion team. 

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UPDATE: Villanova’s Automatic Virtual Environment

Last fall this blog post informed you of a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment, aka “CAVE,” coming to the Library. This summer construction accelerated, and the Villanova CAVE will open soon.

“It sounds similar to watching an IMAX film in 3D,” a colleague informed me. I explained that it’s much more than observing. It’s more like the holodeck from Star Trek, the television series. The Villanova CAVE allows participants to become virtually immersed in a setting in which they can move about and even circle around the 3D image an object, such as a statue or tree, as though they were in the actual setting. The Villanova CAVE also includes sound.

Funding for the Villanova CAVE comes from a $1.67 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant: “the largest NSF research grant ever awarded to the University.”

 

UntitledThe CAVE—aka the Villanova CAVE—arrives … some assembly required.

 

 

RS7959_1725Formerly Viewing Room 4 in Falvey Hall, this space has been prepared to house the Villanova CAVE.

 

 

RS7973_DSC_2181 copyInstallation begins!

 

RS7981_DSC_0370An installer prepares one of the Villanova CAVE’s many projectors.

 

RS7980_DSC_0369The enclosure begins to take shape.

 

RS8005_DSC_2216Testing the Villanova CAVE

 


Photos by Luisa Cywinski and Alice Bampton.

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O Captain, My Captain

Whitman_Poem_O_Captain_My_Captain_09MAR1887_handwritten

O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! My Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

Here captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;

Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my captain lies
Fallen cold and dead.

“O Captain! My Captain!” is a poem written by Walt Whitman in 1865. It is an elegy or mourning poem, written to honor Abraham Lincoln. The poem is an extended metaphor with Lincoln serving as the captain of a ship, symbolizing the United States.

The poem was featured prominently in Dead Poets Society, the film that featured Robin Williams‘ Oscar-winning portrayal of John Keating, a teacher at a stuffy boys-prep school. The students show their support for Keating at the end of the film by standing on their desks and reciting the poem, in defiance of the school’s headmaster’s decision to fire their beloved teacher. The poem has been featured in several anthologies, including Whitman’s Sequel to Drum-Taps and later editions of Leaves of Grass. Comedic legend Williams passed away yesterday at the age of 63.

These volumes and the film are available for borrowing at the Library. Falvey also has other films featuring Williams.

 

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It’s Shark Week and we’ve got fintastic shark art from the Digital Library!

SHARK DIGITAL
http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Record/vudl:312089

Did we, ahem, whet your appetite for more Dime Novel adventure? If so, be sure to check out our fascinating full collection of Dime Novel and Popular Literature from 1860 to 1930.

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Dog Days Special: Can you name these famous dogs?

australian shepherd and books

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Dig Deeper: The Ramones

Guest blogger,  Rohanah Spatz-Mallory

Rohanah

 

On July 11, the last original member of the Ramones, Tommy Ramone, passed away of bile duct cancer. Born Thomas Erdelyi in Budapest, Hungary, in 1949, he moved to Forest Hills, Queens, at the age of four and went on to found one of the most popular and enduring rock bands of all time. The death of Tommy Ramone, the last surviving original member of the Ramones, marks the end of an era. The other three died recently: Joey in 2001 of lymphoma, Dee Dee in 2002 of a drug overdose and Johnny in 2004 of prostate cancer. The sad occasion of Tommy Ramone’s death is extremely significant to a certain large group of people, young and old: Punks.

Some have recently said that the Ramones are now finally dead—gone but not forgotten. Others, such as Legs McNeil, a close friend of the Ramones as well as other punk artists and bands of the original punk era, such as Iggy Pop and the UK group The Sex Pistols, think that the Ramones have been gone for a long time, citing their supposed artistic demise in the late 1980s. Even still, the Ramones were arguably the most influential punk band ever. They pioneered the simple, fast punk sound that many know and love.

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The Ramones are still a fairly popular group with lots of people today, including the original punk rockers of the Ramones’ generation as well as a new generation of kids and young adults that like the punk style and music of the Ramones. As the past few weeks have gone by, many people have talked to me about Tommy Ramone’s death both on social media and in person. The day after he passed away I wore a Ramones shirt, and people of a wide range of ages complimented the shirt, asked if it was to remember Tommy, or said they loved the Ramones and were very surprised when they heard the news.

As a huge fan of the Ramones’ style, attitudes and music, I felt slightly upset about this death although I can’t really say why. There will always be easy access to Ramones music, and there are pictures, videos and interviews of them. I can say, as a young fan of the Ramones, I am disappointed that there is no way to ever see them. Of course there wasn’t any way to see them before Tommy’s death, but this just seals in the thought that the band all together is completely gone. Something about it just doesn’t feel the same, knowing that you’re listening to music where all four founding members of the band are not alive.

Dig Deeper:

People all over the world will always recognize the influence that The Ramones had on music and society. You can dig deeper into punk music and its cultural impact with these great resources from the Falvey collection:

For popular histories of punk rock that cover the Ramones, try these:

England’s dreaming : anarchy, Sex Pistols, punk rock, and beyond, by Jon Savage

Break all rules! : punk rock and the making of a style, by Tricia Henry

 

punk coverHere are a couple of region-specific histories:

Grinding California : culture and corporeality in American skate punk, by Konstantin Butz

It makes you want to spit! : the definitive guide to punk in Northern Ireland, 1977-1982, by Sean O’Neill and Guy Trelford

 

And finally, two more scholarly treatments of punk rock culture:

Punk rockers’ revolution : a pedagogy of race, class, and gender, by Curry Malott and Milagros Peña

Lipstick traces : a secret history of the twentieth century, by Griel Marcus

 

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Special Collections project on WWI to be featured on PCN broadcast

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 2.02.00 PM
Verizon Channel 9 – which is PCN, Pennsylvania’s non-profit cable network, broadcast a show entitled Philadelphia in World War I. For those who missed it, this program will be re-broadcast Saturday, July 26th at 5:35 pm and again on Sunday, July 27th at 04:35 am.

This program includes an interview with Special Collections and Digital Library Coordinator Michael Foight and other speakers involved with the “Home Before the Leaves Fall: a Great War Centennial Exposition” which features World War I content from Villanova University as well as other heritage organizations throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Experience World War One as it happened day by day, 100 years ago at http://wwionline.org.

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Some “Light” Summer Reading – Not. A Baker’s Dozen Plus of Longest Novels

What better way to spend summer’s longer days than with a really long book? Since it is summer reading, let’s look at fiction (written in English).

How do you find a really long book? You could peruse the shelves at a library or a book store. Or you could let your fingers do the walking—go online and search. That search brings up interesting choices: whose list do you believe—Wikipedia’s, Amazon’s, Mental Floss’s, ListVerse’s or someone else’s? They share some selections, but not others. How are the book lengths determined—by the number of pages, characters or  words? All three are used, but counting the number of words seems to be the most accurate.

Pop Dot Comics (1)

Tomm gives Ke$ha a run for her money

The longest novel written in English is The Blah Story (2007-2008), a twenty-three volume work by Nigel Tomm, which contains 11,338,105 words in 17,868 pages. Merriam Webster defines novel as “an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events.” Elements of fiction include character, plot and theme. Broadly defined, The Blah Story includes these elements, but Tomm’s work isn’t something that most of us would choose to read for pleasure. “Overwhelmingly creative, Nigel Tomm demolishes the barrier of words and meaning, giving vitality and expressive strength to the pattern of his most exclusive novel—The Blah Story. It is a new way of conceiving text that frees the imagination, allowing you to personalize each and every word by your own creativity.” This is the description provided by Amazon.com (emphasis added by this writer—nice sales pitch, Amazon!) for the first volume of the novel and, although there are now twenty-three volumes, The Blah Story is considered a single novel. Creative Tomm may be, but do you really want to read even the first volume’s seven hundred twenty eight pages, in which the bulk of the text consists of the word “blah” interspersed with nouns, adjectives, adverbs and verbs, leaving it up to the reader to substitute words for the “blahs” in order to create logical sentences?

Pop Dot Comics-1

We hope Marcel won’t mind.

Let’s look at somewhat more traditional long novels and, for this blog, consider only works originally written in English. Very long books written in another language and then translated into English, such as Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (approximately three million words), Thomas Mann’s Joseph and His Brothers (no word count given on Amazon’s list) and Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables (560,391words), therefore, aren’t on my list but are mentioned here just in case one of these huge books appeals to you.

Marienbad My Love, “the world’s longest ‘open source’ novel” can be downloaded as the original 2008 edition or as a later edition is available in print and for a Kindle. Marienbad My Love by Mark Leach consists of seventeen volumes and 2.5 million words. This book appeared on only one list.

msnearth

Mission: Impossible to read in one sitting

Not quite as long, L. Ron Hubbard’s Mission Earth (1985-1987) has only ten volumes containing 1.2 million words. Sometimes seen as a series of novels, Hubbard intended Mission Earthto be a single novel, published in ten volumes.”

A Dance to the Music of Time (1951-1975) by Anthony Powell follows Mission Earth with fewer than one million words in twelve volumes. It is “sometimes regarded as a novel sequence” which begs the question: is Dance a single novel, as Hubbard’s Mission Earth claims to be?

Pop Dot Comics copy

Richardson ponders his next chapter

Traditional in format and first published in 1794 , Clarissa; or, the History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson, is merely 984,870 words in one thick volume.

Poor Fellow My Country (1980) by the Australian author Xavier Herbert is another lengthy work—852,000 words! Slightly less wordy is Women and Men (1987) by Joseph McElroy at 850,000 or 700,000 words (both are estimates). If you want to sample McElroy’s work in a shorter format, Falvey owns his Lookout Cartridge (531 pages, no word count available).

A close contender to Women and Men in number of words is Madison Cooper’s Sironia, Texas (1952) with 840,000 words. Miss MacIntosh, My Darling (1965) by Marguerite Young has either 750,000 or 576,000 words – that’s quite a variation, but I’m not planning on counting the words myself to verify either total!

Varney: still in print, still dreadful

Varney the Vampire, originally published as a series of “penny dreadfuls” from 1845 to 1847 and then as a book in 1847 has 667,000 words. The author is either James Malcolm Rymer or Thomas Preskett Prest. Varney is still in print although not in Falvey’s collections. (Ed. note: We noticed that Varney is currently being offered free for Kindle devices at this link. Read at your own risk!).

With only some 22,000 fewer words, Atlas Shrugged (1957) by Ayn Rand is almost as long as Varney the Vampire although Atlas Shrugged was first published just over one hundred years later.

Published in 1994, A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth has only 593,674 words—a veritable light weight book! David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (2006) comes in at either 543,709 (Wikipedia) or 484,001 (Amazon) words—that’s quite a difference in the word count! Remembrance Rock (1948), written by Carl Sandberg follows with 532,000 words. And James Clavell’s Jai-Jin, not on all lists, is even shorter at 487,700 words—who counted these?

Sorry to have bursted your bubble, Leo

Sorry to have burst your bubble, Leo

How do these novels compare in size with such well known ones such as War and Peace (1869) written by Leo Tolstoy in Russian and later translated into English? War and Peace contains about 560,000 words; that puts it near the bottom of this list. And where does Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind (1936) rank? At over 400,000 words, it is at the bottom of this list.

If nothing on this list appeals to you, there is always “The New York Times” list of best sellers. Books are divided into categories such as print (hardcover and paperback), e-book, fiction, non-fiction and more. They are ranked by popularity—if you are looking for a super long book, you are on your own.


imagesArticle by Alice Bampton, digital image specialist and senior writer on the Communication and Service Promotion team. Graphics by Joanne Quinn. 

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Happy Birthday, Gregor Johann Mendel

MENDEL tr

Today is the 192nd anniversary of the birth of Gregor Johann Mendel, a V.I A. (very important Augustinian) here at Villanova and a great day to visit one of the most beautiful corners of campus, tucked right behind the library!

On the plaza to the right of the east entrance to Mendel Science Center, there stands a seven feet tall, cast bronze statue of Gregor Johann Mendel (1822 – 1884), the Augustinian priest who discovered the laws of heredity by studying peas, and the scientist for whom the Science Center is named. Suitably enough, the statue is surrounded in a blaze of fuchia crepe myrtle each year in time for the great geneticist’s birthday. The sculptor, James Peniston, signed and dated his work on the lower back right (as one faces the same way as does Mendel).

Peniston, who lives and works in Philadelphia, tells how he came to create the statue in 1998, “There’s one [of my sculptures] at Villanova University, a sculpture of Gregor Mendel that the monks commissioned to stand in front of their science center. They came to the foundry where I worked – Laran Bronze in Chester – and asked if anyone could sculpt a 7-foot figure in two months. And the foundry owners asked me whether I could, and I said, of course I can. Then I had to figure out how to do it!”

“One of the challenges of the Mendel was drapery robes. For reference, I studied some of the sculptures down along the Schuylkill River, along Kelly Drive. They have some really fine robes and capes.”

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Artists have made cast bronze sculptures throughout the history of art, at least since the time of the Ancient Greeks. If you look closely at Villanova’s statue of Gregor Johann Mendel, you can see the marks of the sculptor’s tools which he used to shape the clay model for the statue.

For more on Peniston, click here. And to see Peniston’s explanation for bronze casting see here. For more information about the Mendel statue see here. And for much more for about Mendel go here. And don’t miss tomorrow’s blog for a delicious way to serve those peas once you’ve finished cross-breeding them!

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Foto Friday: The Highlight of Your Summer

HIGHLIGHTER JESSE tr

 

Fast, intense, and no free time to watch any World Cup—you really earn those credits in the summertime!  So, summer students, what’s been the highlight of your summer sessions here at Villanova? Dare we make a guess that you’ll say that it’s next week—when sessions finally come to a close?!

Our remedy? Find a fluffy study buddy and ride out the rest of these dog days with a highlighter in your favorite color, Florence & the Machine on your iPod and your subject librarian on speed dial.


Photo of “Jesse” by Molly Quinn, ’15 CLAS

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Last Modified: July 18, 2014