Monday, July 18, 2005

Yale Library iconography

Yale Digital Library no. 8098 "Savage, the Leffingwell Professor of Painting, Yale School of the Fine Arts, described his retable [REE-tay-bul] as follows: 'Under the spreading branches of the tree of knowledge is a golden portal within which stands Alma Mater, laurel crowned, clothed in white, and wearing a blue mantle. She holds in one hand the sphere of learning and in the other an open book illuminated with the ancient characters which 'Lux et Veritas' translate in the seal of the University. On the left of the composition, Light bearing a torch, and Truth holding a mirror have led their followers to make grateful acknowledgment to Alma Mater. Science and Labor present to her the fruits of the earth; Music, Divinity and Literature attend on the right, while the Fine Arts places a figure of Winged Victory at her feet.' See Yale University Library Gazette, v.VII:no.3 (1933:Jan), pages 75-76."

When one enters Sterling Memorial Library through its main portal, the most striking feature are the inscriptions carved above its doors: literary passages from Assyrian cuneiform, Hebrew, Arabic, Mayan, Egyptian hieroglyphic, Greek, and Chinese scripts can be found there. There are even engravings reproduced from Cro-Magnon caves dwellings.

Another great resource is Nota Bene, many issues of which (perhaps all?) are available online.
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