From the Books: Ex-libris in MNBA Collections

Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

My Books

My books (that do not know I exist)
They are a part of me, like this face
From temples and eyes already gray
That in vain I go seeking in the mirrors
And over which I run my concave hand.
Not without a natural bitterness
I understand that the essential words,
Those that express me, will be in those leaves
Who do not know who I am, nor what I write.
It's just as well. The voices of these dead
will forever speak to me.

Jorge Luis Borges, in "La Rosa Profunda"

With the aim of revealing the diversity of owner's markers contained in the books of the MNBA's bibliographic collections to the public, the Library highlights a small, selected sample of the Ex-libris (bookplates) in our collection.

The Ex-libris lies in the personalization of the book and in the aesthetic enjoyment, providing an original print, produced manually with old and traditional engraving techniques.

Ex-librisis a Latin expression that means "from the books of" or "is part of my books" and was used to determine the ownership of a book. It can be in the form of cardboard, labels, or small stencils, usually glued on the front or back cover of a book.

Ex-Libris Quirino Campofiorito
In the collection of the MNBA Library, we highlight the ex-libris of the artist and art critic, Quirino Campofiorito, which consists of a paper label painted by himself which identifies the books donated by him. There are several of his ex-libris templates. It is a true work of art.

There are versions of the same ex-libris, varying only in color.

Alfredo Galvão (1900-1987)
Painter, teacher, and historian, Alfredo Galvão (1900–87) studied at the National School of Fine Arts (ENBA), first as a free student, from 1916 through 1919, then as a regular student, from 1920 through 1927, having been a pupil of Masters such as Rodolpho Amoêdo, Baptista da Costa, Lucilio de Albuquerque, and Rodolpho Chambelland. He was also director of the School and the National Museum of Fine Arts, and a dedicated researcher of academic art education in Brazil, most especially in Rio de Janeiro.

Ex-libris by Alfredo Galvão.
The National Museum of Fine Arts

Inspired by Michelangelo's sculpture "Aurora" (Dawn), an integral part of the funeral monuments of Lorenzo and Giuliano de Medici, "Allegories of Time" (Twilight, Day, Dawn, and Night) in the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence, Italy. The set of sculptures represents the phases of life: Dawn for youth, Twilight for old age, Day for our life on earth, and Night for death.

The National Museum of Fine Arts has a plaster sketch of unknown authorship of this sculpture by Michelangelo.

The "Aurora" appears sprawled on the volute of the sarcophagus, resting on her right forearm, but suffused with a sensual languor that makes her sigh and distend her limbs as if sliding.

Ex-libris by the artist Marcelo Frazão
Made for his library and for the books of the atelier, Villa Olivia. Composed of three symbols, the main one is the basilisk, a mythical animal that turns anyone who looks at it into stone.

Detail of the second image representing a cross.

The third almost imperceptible image is a triangle, representing Protection and Strength.

In 1910, the "Society of Brazilian Lovers of Ex libris" (SABEL) was created. In 1942, the 1st Brazilian Ex-libris Exhibition was organized at the National Museum of Fine Arts, under the chairmanship of director Oswaldo Teixeira.

Cover of the catalog of the 1st Brazilian Ex-Libris Exhibition at the National Museum of Fine Arts in May, 1942.

Ex-libris by Nuno Smith de Vasconcelos
One of the ex-libris items of the 1st Ex-Libris Exhibition at the MNBA was the image of the Victory of Samothrace, inspired by the goddess Nike, who exalts shipwrecked and naval combatants. Drawing by Henrique Cavalleiro.

One of the most famous pieces of the Louvre Museum is the "Winged Victory of Samothrace." This sculpture, by an unknown author, was made in the Hellenistic period and found in 1863.

The National Museum of Fine Arts has a cast in plaster donated in 1929 by the French government, which served as inspiration for the Ex-libris of Nuno Smith de Vasconcelos.

Painting of the Victory of Samothrace by Eliseu Visconti

Credits: Story

Dos livros: Ex-libris nas coleções do MNBA

Curadoria - Mary Komatsu Shinkado

Fotografia - Eliana Andressa Martins Gomes

Idealizado especialmente para o Google Art Project, 2017

Credits: All media
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