Both The Getty and The Metropolitan Museum of Art are releasing digital books (.pdfs) of their own publications about their collections as a “virtual library.” These books are complete .pdf versions of the print bersions, and are free to download.
Ériu, a journal from the Royal Irish Academy, has published a special compilation issue in honor of the International Conference of Medievalists. The articles are all reprints, but they are some stellar reprints, and you can read them or download the .pdfs without a subscription to Ériu.
The 13th Century Book of Aneirin has been completely digitized and placed online. This is one of the four major Welsh mss. mostly known because it contains the text of Y Goddodin, an epic poem retelling the historic battle of Catraeth wherein 300 Men from Manaw Gododdin, near Edinburgh, fought the Saxons at Catraeth (modern day Catterick, North Yorkshire) around the year 600AD. Only three of the Britons survived the battle, one of whom, the poet Aneirin, commemorates the fallen.
This is the last of the Four Ancient Books of Wales to be digitized and made publicly available. The other three books are:
These are high-resolution, reproduction-quality images with embedded metadata, some over 100 megabytes in size. You can browse the images, or look for individual “download” links on the Getty Museum’s collection pages. Before the download actually begins, the Getty site asks simple questions about how you plan to use the images.
The Getty released images of many of its most famous works, including paintings like Vincent van Gogh’s Irises, but I’m especially excited by the medieval manuscripts (The Getty purchased the Ludwig collection, a huge collection of manuscripts rich in psalters and books of hours several years ago, and already had a solid collection, and they’ve added mss. since).
The British Library began the digital catalog in 1997. Currently the catalog provides a digital record of 4,231 different manuscript, and includes 35,661 images those manuscripts, with a searchable database. The images were scanned following the best digital practices, and include provenance, metadata, and in many cases, detailed images.
Technically these works are still in copyright in the UK until 2040, but given that they are anonymous and many centuries old, the Library has decided to provide the images on the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts under a Public Domain Mark and treat them as public domain works, as would be the case in many other countries.
For more information, please see the library’s use and reuse policy for CIM. We ask that you maintain the library’s Public Domain tag, and provide a link or other credit back to the image’s source on the British Library’s site – help us share these riches even more widely with the world.
I’m absolutely delighted by this news. The British Library and its staff have made it extraordinarily simple to search for a particular MS. by name or shelf number. You can also search by Keyword or perform advanced searches related to specific characteristics of the manuscript or its illumination including MSS. or images from a given region or time period, or even of a particular subject matter.
Please respect the creators – ensure traditional cultural expressions and all ethical concerns in the use of the material are considered, and any information relating to the creator is clear and accurate. Please note, any adaptations made to an item should not be attributed to the original creator and should not be derogatory to the originating cultures or communities.
Please credit the source of the material—providing a link back to the image on the British Library’s website will encourage others to explore and use the collections.
Please share knowledge where possible—please annotate, tag and share derivative works with others as well as the Library wherever possible.
Support the Public Domain – users of public domain works are asked to support the efforts of the Library to care for, preserve, digitise and make public domain works available. This support could include monetary contributions or work in kind, particularly when the work is being used for commercial or other for-profit purposes.
Please preserve all public domain marks and notices attached to the works – this will notify other users that the images are free from copyright restrictions and encourage greater use of the collection.
This is a fabulous resource and a great way to learn all sorts of things. I’ll be taking full advantage!
The Benedictine monastery of Reichenau was founded in 724, and by the Carolingian era, was one of the most important scriptoria in Europe, with particularly strong ties to Ireland.
Baden State Library in Karlsruhe has released high-quality digital images of 224 fragments (some small pieces, other several folios) from the Reichenau library. The site is here. Notice that “fragment” is used very loosely; when you are navigating through the images, be aware that most of the fragments contain a number of images, of ms. pieces and entire folios.
My goal for the site is to create an encyclopedia of Arthurian knowledge accessible enough for the lay, non-academic audience (fanboyspeople included) and detailed enough to be useful for academics, too, a place where you can read about Malory’s changes to the story of Pelleas and Ettard, as well as about that episode of the Transformers where they pull a Conneticut Yankee.
So, if you know anything about the Arthurian legends, please drop by the King Arthur Wiki. Trade me a few footnotes worth of your cognitive surplus. And if you want to become an official administrator, contact me offblog.
The Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important mss. we have, and the oldest extant New Testament. The fourth century (c. 350) Greek ms. is over 1600 years old and contains the complete Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. The other central “complete” ms. bible is Codex Vaticanus, which varies in several ways from this carefully corrected ms. The Codex Sinaiticus has been in four sections for several hundred years. In 1844 a German Biblical scholar, Konstantin von Tischendorf, found several folios of the ms. at Saint Catherine’s Monastery by Mount Sinai. He brought part of the ms. to Leipzig University Library. Later he brought other sections to Russia. The Project, a collaborative work between the Russian National Library, the British Library and Saint Catherine’s Monastery, has digitized the entire ms. and will be placing high resolution images on the Internet starting July 24 here. You’ll note, if you look at the sample image aboveimage from the end of Jeremiah and the beginning of Lamentations, that the Codex was written before word spaces were used.
There aren’t that many portraits of John Donne, and one of the best, the one you see here, has been in various private collections and less than accessible. This portrait was painted in Donne’s twenties, around the 1590s, the period when Jonson said “Donne wrote wrote all his best poetry,” the era in which we think most of the love poetry was written. The portrait was almost certainly done with Donne’s supervision. It’s Donne done as a melancholy lover, complete with disheveled and pricey expensive lace collars undone, and a Latin epigram. Donne is wearing an exceedingly romantic black floppy hat, and there’s a certain earnest directness to his gaze that suggests the suffering lover. You can read about the portrait here, and you should because it’s interesting.
This is more than likely the portrait Donne described in his will and left to Robert Ker, later 1st Earl of Ancrum (1578–1654):
I give to my honourable and faithful friend Mr Robert Karr of his Majesties Bedchamber that Picture of myne wch is taken in Shaddowes and was made very many yeares before I was of this profession [i.e. a minister].
England’s National Portrait Gallery is trying to raise funds to buy the portrait for the Gallery’s collection. You can read about the appeal here, and donate, very easily even from North America. The National Portrait Gallery must raise £1,652,000 by the end of May.