• My account

Press releases

Facebook. Twitter.

February 14

Le livre de la Renaissance à Montréal exhibit:
rare and valuable originals brought together at the Grande Bibliothèque

Montréal, February 14, 2012 – Works that renewed methods and wisdom and drove the development of the geographic, intellectual, spiritual, literary and scientific knowledge of the Western world? For the great pleasure of enthusiasts, the Le livre de la Renaissance à Montréal exhibit will give people an opportunity to see more than 200 such works at the National Collection of the Grande Bibliothèque until January 27, 2013.

Presented in two theme-based sections, this exhibit has been produced by Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) in partnership with the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and McGill University. In addition to the works loaned by these institutions, the exhibit will also include documents from the valuable collections of old books held by the Université de Montréal, Concordia University, the Stewart Museum and Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf. The exhibit focuses on demonstrating the complexity of the book for the Renaissance, the accomplishments of the principal printers, such as Alde Manuce, to whom we are indebted for the development of the italic font which is still used today, as well as certain other major personalities such as Gryphe, Froben, Estienne and Plantin, who invented the modern book.

“It is very important for us to make people realize that, against all expectations, the books of the Renaissance period are not absent from Québec collections,” said Guy Berthiaume, Chair and CEO of BAnQ. “In fact, the major collectors, patrons and religious communities have endowed our public and university libraries with remarkable treasures. Our users will have an enhanced access to the literary and documentary heritage if that access is anchored in the very sources of our culture.”

“I wanted to present original documents,” added Brenda Dunn-Lardeau, the driving force behind this exhibit as well as its curator. “I wanted to show not only the book as a vehicle for humanism but also the book as an artefact with its marginalia – the notes written in the margins – its bookplates, even its censorship marks (removed pages or ink-covered pages).”

The first part, to be presented until August 12, 2012, will include works brought together under the theme, “Sacred and Lay Texts”. They include:

  • Songe de Poliphile by Francisco Colonna, incunabula dated 1499;
  • Jacques Amyot’s French translation (1572) of Plutarch’s Moralia, a work which Montaigne considered as his breviary;
  • Elegantiæ by Lorenzo Valla, which marked a rupture between Medieval Latin, which was considered barbaric, and the return to the classic Latin of the Renaissance;
  • Erasmus’ edition of the Novum Testamentum, damaged by a dagger in the 16th century, in which the author dared to correct the text of the Vulgate;
  • the book by Agrippa von Nettesheim which, describing women as superior to men, caused a scandal in 1529.

This will be followed, from August 21, 2-12 to January 27, 2013, by a second section focussed on scientific humanism, which will present other exceptional documents including works by Tacitus and Machiavelli (history) and by Vitruvius and Alberti (architecture), as well as treatises by Copernicus on astronomy, by Vesalius on anatomy and Stöffler on the uses of the astrolabe.

About the curator

Brenda Dunn-Lardeau is a professor with the Department of Literary Studies at UQAM. The author of several books and articles about the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, she has received an award from the Académie française and another from the Modern Language Association for her edition of the La légende dorée. She founded the Groupe de recherche multidisciplinaire de Montréal sur les livres anciens (2004). As part of the Le livre de la Renaissance à Montréal project, she worked closely with Richard Virr, manager and manuscript curator of the Rare Books and Special Collections Division at McGill University, who served as a scientific advisor.

Activities complementing the exhibit

March 1
Conference: Le livre de la Renaissance à Montréal
With Brenda Dunn-Lardeau, exhibit curator
7:30 pm, Auditorium of the Grande Bibliothèque

April 13 and 14
Study days: Ouvrages phares de la Réforme et de la Contre-Réforme dans les collections montréalaises
Organized to complement the exhibit, these two study days will focus on Erasmus, Luther, Thomas à Kempis, Holbein, R. Estienne and Surius. The programme includes a tour of the exhibit. Presented by BAnQ and UQAM.
Information: banq.qc.ca/colloques

May 17
Lecture and concert: La poésie amoureuse de la Renaissance
With David Dorais, novelist, short story writer and specialist in the poetry of the Renaissance
The lecture will be followed by a concert by the musical ensemble “Les Idées heureuses” dedicated to Ronsard’s Amours.
7:30 pm, Auditorium of the Grande Bibliothèque

About Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

As the largest cultural institution in Québec and an essential pillar of the knowledge society, the mission of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) is to offer democratic access to culture and knowledge. To this end, it brings together, preserves and disseminates the Québec and Québec-related documentary and archival heritage. It also offers the services of a major library. BAnQ encompasses the Grande Bibliothèque, a preservation centre (Centre de conservation), nine archives centres in Montréal, Québec City, Gatineau, Rimouski, Rouyn-Noranda, Saguenay, Sept-Îles, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières, and an antenna at Gaspé.