“So precious a foundation: The Library of Leander van Ess.”
Announcement of the exhibition at Bridwell Library, “so precious a foundation: The Library of Leander van Ess.” Designed by Jon Speck, 1998.
In 1838, the library of German priest, scholar, and biblical translator, Professor Leander Van Ess (1771–1847), became the foundation on which one of the first research libraries in America was built. The collection was assembled in the wake of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars as huge numbers of books and manuscripts were displaced from ecclesiastical libraries. Estimated at nearly fourteen thousand items, the library was purchased by Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1838 for $5000.
In order to promote the collection, Union Theological Seminary with The Grolier Club, New York, allowed a selection of items to tour and to be exhibited by five institutions in Germany, Canada, and the United States. Ninety-eight manuscripts, Incunables, ecclesiastical documents, Bibles, liturgies, and Reformation literature were on display from February 3 through April 25, 1998 in The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries at Bridwell Library and were viewed by over five hundred visitors.
The print reproduces a woodcut by Lucas Cranach the Elder, “The Creation” in the Luther Bibel (Wittenberg: Hans Lufft, 1541). The woodcut can be seen in the Bridwell Luther Bible in its original form, without hand coloring.