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Title(s):

Commonplace book.

Published/Created:
1829-1834.
Physical Description:
1 volume (70 leaves, some blank) : illustrations ; 21 cm
Holdings:
Rare Books and Manuscripts
PN6245 .C66 1829
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Information
Classification:
Archives & Manuscripts
Notes:
Bound in contemporary gilt- and blind-tooled calf
The commonplace book includes drawings, poems, texts, watercolors and one miscellaneous music score, by about 10 distinct contributors. The primary compiler is unidentified. Pages of the album are watermarked “R Munn & Co 1824"; the dates that accompany pieces range from 1829 to 1834. The volume begins with a printed title page, which reads “May what I ask be given.” This inscription expresses the wish that the volume be a “bounteous receptacle of the offerings ... a fruitful source of improvement and delight.” The volume celebrates the natural world as observed by various artists, and the cultural lineage of the various authors.
The volume includes 16 graphite drawings, most of which are landscape portraits and often appear unaccompanied by text. Subjects include but are not limited to: Conway, Kirkstall Abbey, London, Regent's Canal, Napoleon's tomb, miscellaneous castles and more. There are also numerous sketches of people. Perhaps the most notable is a sketch of a skull which accompanies a poem about those who lost their lives at Waterloo.
There are 12 watercolors, which often appear on their own and fall into three categories: butterflies, flowers, and marching boys. The butterflies appear both with and without text and are exceptionally detailed and colorful. One butterfly has a signature at the bottom of the page that reads “Mary Robins [?] Nov. 1829.” The flowers appear both with and without text. One example occurring with text is an image of the moss rose. The text below it is The Legend of the Moss Rose, which comes from a Calvados Legend, but was made popular by Edward Bunyard towards the end of his life. Other signatures on flower pictures include “R.M.G.” and “C.H. Williams.”
Most of the text in the volume is poetry copied from other sources. One text that could not be identified is titled, “On Autumn” and begins, “I heard a sound on the evening gale / It was parting autumn's farewell sigh / As the last lone leaf with mournful wail / Dropped with its kindred dead to die.” It is signed “W. Price.” Other poems include but are not limited to: a selection from The Vanity of Human Wishes by Samuel Johnson, Our Joys by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which begins “There fluttered round a spring...”, “Sonnet to War” (author unknown), translation of an unpublished poem by Lucien Bonaparte titled, The Cineide (?) (signed “R.G.”), Addressed to a Young Lady by William Cowper (signed by “S.B.”), and Sassoor in the Deccan by Letitia Elizabeth Landon (signed “Aston Brook, Dec 30 1834”).
The miscellaneous music score is composed in the key of A major and includes both notation of the melody and for the accompaniment. In addition to these pages there is evidence for at least two more pages, which have been torn out.
Subject Terms:
Butterflies.
English poetry -- 18th century.
English poetry -- 19th century.
Flowers.
Skulls.
Waterloo, Battle of, Waterloo, Belgium, 1815 -- Poetry.
Women in natural history.
Form/Genre:
Commonplace books.
Graphite drawings.
Watercolors.
Portraits.
Botanical illustrations.
Scores.
Contributors:
Brook, Aston.
Price, W.
Robins, Mary.
William, C. H.
Bonaparte, Lucien, prince de Canino, 1775-1840.
Cowper, William, 1731-1800.
Goethe, Walther Wolfgang von, 1818-1885.
Johnson, Samuel, 1709-1784.
L. E. L. (Letitia Elizabeth Landon), 1802-1838.
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