From Adam and Eve to 1521 – Cronica Cronicarum on show at Baillieu Library for Rare Book Week

July 16 / 184

A 16th century, 11-metre-long scroll illustrating the history of the world from Biblical times, is the centrepiece of an exclusive exhibition at the University of Melbourne to coincide with Rare Book Week later this month.

Cronica Cronicarum Abbrege et Mis Par Figures Descents et Rondeaulx (A chronicle of French, English and world history, ranging from creation to the year 1521) and other exquisite items, including illuminated manuscripts on vellum from the same period, will also be on show. 

The items are recently acquired and on loan from the Kerry Stokes Collection, and will be on show in the University's Baillieu Library, while three public lectures will explore the objects' unusual provenance and cultural significance.

Emeritus Professor Margaret Manion is one of Australia’s leading experts on medieval art and has published widely on the subject of illuminated manuscripts.

“The Chronicle’s 92 woodcuts include early depictions of the cities of Paris, London and Rome as well as portraits of kings and rulers, biblical and historical scenes and genealogical tables,” she says.

“Several hand-illuminated manuscripts and early decorated printed works from around the turn of the century and later are included in the exhibition, which are fascinating.

“Not only have they not been available for many years for public display but they represent the work of some of the most distinguished and sought after patrons of the time, who worked for French Royalty and the Papal court in Rome. These works provide splendid examples of exquisite decoration and inspirational devotion.”

Rare Book Week is a partnership event between ANZAAB (the Australia New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers), the University of Melbourne and eight other literary institutions.

This year more than 50 free events will be held at libraries, literary and historical societies and bookshops throughout Melbourne, attracting local, national and international visitors.

Melbourne Rare Book Week is now well established in the City of Melbourne's event calendar and plays a role in supporting Melbourne’s status as a City of Literature. It is a major attraction for book collectors, librarians and all who have a love of words, print on paper and literary heritage.

As part of this year's Rare Book Week the University of Melbourne will host Melbourne Rare Book Fair, for dealers and collectors alike.

Rare Book Week begins 22 July. 

More information can be found here.

Story by Katherine Smith.

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