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Provenance Detectives

Magna carta cum statutis, ca. 1350. HLS MS 54, Hollis no. 3990350 Historical & Special Collections, Harvard Law School Library

Revealing the History of Six Library Artifacts

Harvard Law School Library
Caspersen Room
April 20 – August 9, 2012
Monday – Sunday, 9:00am – 5:00pm

This exhibit highlights six artifacts chosen for their fascinating and sometimes mysterious provenance, as well as their ability to illustrate the different paths provenance research takes.  Artifacts featured in the exhibit include: a fourteenth century Magna Carta; furniture used by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.; and a painting of Justice John Marshall by eminent portrait artist Chester Harding.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is an early printed volume of English statutes once owned by early photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877). Included with the volume, on display for the first time since its provenance was discovered, is a leaf from the same volume that Talbot used to make a “photogenic drawing” of the text. Long thought to be lost, we are delighted to exhibit this exciting piece of photographic history.

Come learn more about the frustrating, fascinating hunt for artifact ownership. You never know what you might find!

This exhibit was curated by Mary Person, Lesley Schoenfeld, and Carli Spina and will be on view through August 12, 2012, in the Caspersen Room.  The Caspersen Room is located on the fourth floor of the Harvard Law School Library, Langdell Hall and is open seven days a week from 9 to 5.

Visit the exhibit online too!

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