PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The David Winton Bell Gallery and the Brown University Library present Pictures from the Hay: Celebrating the John Hay Library at 100, from Saturday, Aug. 28, through Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010, in the Bell Gallery. An opening reception will be held Friday, Sept. 10, 2010, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The exhibition and opening are free and open to the public.
Dedicated in November 1910, the John Hay Library is named for John Hay, a member of the Class of 1858 who served as Abraham Lincoln’s private secretary during the Civil War and later became secretary of state. Pictures from the Hay celebrates the library’s centennial through a selection of visual materials — about 120 paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, and artifacts drawn from the Hay’s collections.
Pictures from the Hay is organized around subject areas that reflect some of the many strengths of the collection, such as the history of sciences, the military, and book arts. Among the works related to Abraham Lincoln are the graphic novel, Time Beavers, and Abraham Africanus I, a rare political pamphlet from 1864 that satirically depicts Abraham Lincoln as an African American, making a pact with the Devil to become the monarchical ruler of the United States.
The exhibition also provides a limited glimpse of the many significant works of visual art found within the 5 million books, monographs, manuscripts, broadsides, photographs, prints, postage stamps, and sheets of music held by the library.
“Although we think of libraries first as repositories of the written work, many important artistic works are found within the holdings of special collection libraries, such as the John Hay Library,” said Jo-Ann Conklin, director of the Bell Gallery and curator of the exhibition.
Works by renowned artists in the exhibition include a painting by John Singer Sargent, photographs by Roger Fenton, drawings by William Hogarth, Arthur Rackham, and Frederick Remington, and prints by Paul Revere, Robert Motherwell and Jim Dine. Books of equal renown, including Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora (1799), Theodore de Bry’s Grand Voyages (1590), Galileo’s Dialogues (1632), and Vesalius’ anatomical treatise, On the Fabric of the Human Body (1543), are also on display.
The John Hay Library
Dedicated in November 1910, the library is named for John Hay, a member of the Class of 1858. Perhaps the most famous Brown graduate of his day, Hay accepted the position of private secretary to Abraham Lincoln at the age of 22, and thus began a long career in government. In addition to numerous diplomatic posts, he was named secretary of state under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Hay also worked as a journalist and had a great love of poetry, which is reflected in the exhibition. He died in 1905 while serving as secretary of state. His friend Andrew Carnegie provided substantial funding for the library in his honor.
The David Winton Bell Gallery
The David Winton Bell Gallery is located in the List Art Center, 64 College St. in Providence. Hours are Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, please contact (401) 863-2932.
Concurrently, Divisibility, a new work by artist Alison Owen, will be on view in the Bell Gallery lobby. Owen’s sprawling wallpaper installation draws both from the architecture of the List Art Center as well as the details of the rare manuscripts on display in Pictures From the Hay.