Archive for May, 2014

Henrique Medina’s Picture of Dorian Gray

May 23, 2014

In the 1945 film The Picture of Dorian Gray, there are actually two pictures of Mr. Gray — a “before” and an “after”– painted by two different artists.  The “after” painting by American artist Ivan Albright now lives in the Art Institute in Chicago, where you can find it on display.

Ivan Albright’s Picture of Dorian Gray

The other picture of Dorian was painted by Portuguese artist Henrique Medina, whose work should look somewhat familiar to Clark aficionados:

Henrique Medina's Picture of Dorian Gray

Henrique Medina’s Picture of Dorian Gray

Medina is responsible for the portraits of William Andrews Clark, Jr., Cora Sanders, and Robert E. Cowan that are prominently displayed in the library’s drawing room.

Henrique Medina's Picture of Mr. Clark

Henrique Medina’s Picture of Mr. Clark

Medina (1901-1988) spent several years in Los Angeles, where he was a favorite of society and Hollywood figures, including (it seems) Mr. Clark and his staff.  Works by Medina are housed in museums and collections around the world and there is a museum of his work in his native Portugal.  What Medina thought about the coincidence of painting Dorian Gray’s portrait after painting portraits of the founder and staff of one of the largest Oscar Wilde collections in the world is unknown — but hopefully he found it as interesting as we do.

Medina's Picture of Robert Cowan

Medina’s Picture of Robert Cowan

Apparently his portrait of Dorian Gray was at some point given as a gift to Hurd Hatfield, the actor who played Dorian in the film.  According to Hatfield’s Wikipedia entry, his art collections and other estate contents were sold at auction at his home in County Cork in 2007.  We’d love to know if Medina’s Picture of Dorian Gray was among those contents. If you can help us figure out more details about the auction and about who owns the portrait now, we would be very thankful!

Henrique Medina, from the University of Porto

Pittsburgh (i.e. Milan)

May 15, 2014

Here’s more on lying books and false imprints from Mitch Fraas at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries’ Unique at Penn blog:

Unique at Penn

Why was the first book printed in Pittsburgh written in Italian? Spoiler: it wasn’t!

Above is the title page of the 1761 Lettere d’un vago italiano ad un suo amico with its place of publication listed as the thriving metropolis of “Pittburgo” a classic case of what bibliographers call a false imprint. I first came across this example nearly a year ago when researching European books which falsely claimed to be printed in North America and this April a copy of the first volume came up for sale from the bookseller Garrett Scott and is now here at Penn (call#: DP34 .C35 1761).

In 1761, Pittsburgh was only a few years old and had a population barely over 250. The first printing press and locally printed book didn’t come to the city until after Independence in 1786.  Given this fact and thanks to the sleuthing of the Italian…

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Happy Birthday, Las Vegas!

May 15, 2014

From Nina Schneider, Head Cataloger


Photograph of Clark townsite auction sale, Las Vegas, May 15-16, 1905 From the collection of University of Nevada, Las Vegas, University Libraries

In 1905 a two-day auction took place in Southern Nevada. On May 15th and 16th 1200 lots were up for bid. The area: Clark’s Las Vegas Townsite. The owner: William Andrews Clark, the former state senator from Montana.



Las Vegas Land and Water Company Map of Clark’s Las Vegas Townsite, Lincoln County, Nevada, May 10, 1905 From the collection of University of Nevada, Las Vegas, University Libraries

His activities weren’t limited to copper mining in Montana and Arizona. His fortune was already in the millions when he realized an opportunity to increase it even further. At the time, there was no railroad connecting Salt Lake City directly with Los Angeles, requiring a long trip through San Francisco. In order to shave hundreds of miles from this journey and take advantage of the shipping trades in San Pedro, California, Clark purchased nearly 2000 acres, along with the crucial water rights from Helen Stewart, the owner of a profitable ranch on the site of a former Mormon mission. Clark intended to build a train stop in Las Vegas. The rest is history. As James Hulse writes in “W.A. Clark and the Las Vegas Connection”:

The railroad laid out a town, Clark’s Las Vegas Townsite, and held a land auction on May 15, 1905. In two days, the 110-acres bounded by Stewart Avenue and Garces Avenue and Main Street and 5th Street (now Las Vegas Boulevard) were sold. The auction [on May 15 & 16, 1905] founded the modern Las Vegas Valley. … Clark’s Las Vegas Townsite became an incorporated city on March 16, 1911 when it adopted its first charter. Today the Las Vegas Valley is comprised of five jurisdictions: the city of Las Vegas; unincorporated Clark County; the city of North Las Vegas; the city of Henderson; and the city of Boulder City.*

Because liberal divorce laws were already in place and it was to be only two more decades before gambling was legalized and the Hoover Dam constructed, the city of Las Vegas thrived. Clark’s San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad was later known as the Union Pacific.

Senator Clark

Henrique Medina Pencil sketch of William Andrews Clark, 1932? From the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA

* Montana: the magazine of Western History, (Winter 1987):48-55

The Ahmanson Undergraduate Seminar and Undergraduate Research

May 9, 2014

Congratulations, again, to Samantha Lusher and the rest of this year’s recipients of the UCLA Library Prize for undergraduate research. Read more about the prize and this year’s recipients here. We also want to congratulate Ms. Lusher’s professor, Dr. Alice Boone, who taught the Ahmanson Undergraduate Seminar (an English Department capstone course), “Legacies of The Castle of Otranto, 1764-2014″ at the Clark during the Winter Quarter and Professor Joseph Bristow, who advised Charlotte Rose, another recipient of this year’s award.

The 2014-2015 Ahmanson Undergraduate Seminar (a History Department capstone course), “Pirates of the Caribbean?,” will be taught by Professor Carla Gardina Pestana in the Fall Quarter. Students interested in applying for the course should apply by May 16. More information can be found at the link, above.

Sometimes, Books Lie (Part One: Title Pages)

May 8, 2014

We are often told that we can trust printed books, that the process by which their content has been compiled, vetted, and published is a process that filters out subterfuge, half-truths, and misleading gambits. This is not always (or even mostly) the case. Printed matter is the output of human endeavor and humans have biases, make errors, believe untruths, and outright lie in their printed vehicles.

Experienced researchers know this all too well. Once you realize that a book is telling you something that seems suspect, you can research further to determine if it is lying. Those who study the early modern period have a host of examples from which to play with conceptions of veracity and the circulation of ideas. Yet, novice researchers may not know what to do or where to start, and this blog post is for them.

Sometimes, books are in on the subterfuge of their creators, and they are lying for a reason. One example of such subterfuge is the false imprint, or, the lying title page. In a recent undergraduate class held at the Clark, we showed the students John Milton’s Pro populo Anglicano defensio,  printed in London in 1651. Why might a book printed in England be written in Latin? How can I find out more?

Milton, Pro populo anglicano defensio

My first stop is the English Short Title Catalogue (or, “ESTC”), where I searched for the title of the work. The ESTC returned three different possibilities, so I looked more closely at the three to determine which is the one I have in my hands. (This happens often with early modern books that were published in multiple editions or by different publishers.) I looked very closely at the titles of each of them. Since the title page in the Clark copy notes that it contains an index (“Cum Indice“), I am able to determine that this record matches: Happily, the ESTC record has loads of information for me, including that the book was published in Amsterdam, not in London, and was published not be William Dugard (“Typis Dv Gardianis”), but by Louis Elzevier. (See the “Publisher/year” and “General note” fields.)

So, this book is lying about where and by whom it was published. Since it is purporting to be something other than what it is, the next question is why. In this case, the ESTC record helps me again. It gives me a citation to two articles written by scholar F.F. Madan who researched the publication history of this particular work. Thanks to the UCLA Library having a license to access the electronic version of these articles and holding paper copies at various library locations, I have easy access to Madan’s research.

Madan notes that there are multiple editions of this treatise, most of which are not published in London by William Dugard at all. Looking through Madan’s numbered list of editions and variants, the Clark’s copy is clearly no. 6. (I did not need to look this up this, however, since the ESTC record lists it as Madan no. 6. Indeed, if you look at the very bottom of the Clark’s catalog record, you’ll see the notation “Madan 6” as well, but now you’ll know what that means.)

Also according to Madan, this work was “the official reply of the Parliament to the Defensio Regia of Salmasius, which was having a serious effect upon public opinion on the Continent.” (F.F. Madan, “Milton, Salmasius, and Dugard” in The Library, ser.4 vol.4 (1923), p. 119.) And the year 1651 was in the midst of the English Civil War, with King Charles I beheaded in 1649 and Parliament appointing Oliver Cromwell as chair of the new Commonwealth’s Council of State. This work was published amidst intense turmoil over the power of the monarchy, with John Milton responding for the side of Parliament, which hoped to sway public opinion both in England and abroad in its favor. And, the learned European audience for such a work was much more likely to read Latin than English.

What does the publishing history of this treatise, with its Latin text, many editions, and lying title pages, tell us about the purpose of the treatise and the period more generally? To help answer these and similar questions, explore the myriad resources at your disposal via UCLA Librarian Marta Brunner’ s incredibly useful British History research guide.