Estate of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - Morgan Library feature

There’s Still Time To See “The Magic of Handwriting” At The Morgan Library

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Pedro Corrêa do Lago (who admits to being somewhat mad on this topic) started collecting autographs at the age of 11.  Now he is 60 years old, and this Brazilian collector, author, publisher, and historian has amassed an enormous collection of autographs and other handwritten documents, covering close to 900 years of Western culture.  Some of the best of it is currently in New York City at the Morgan Library & Museum, and you can see it for yourself firsthand, but only through September 16th.

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Collecting in the broad areas of art, literature, history, science, music and entertainment, and open to the public for the very first time, this sampling of Corrêa do Lago’s holdings includes handwritten notes from Sir Isaac Newton, Oscar Wilde, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Henri Matisse, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Rasputin, Queen Victoria, Ernest Hemingway, Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka, Josephine Baker, Henry VIII, Walt Disney, and Sigmund Freud.  Many are simple bits of ephemera which have, almost miraculously, survived over the years.  Others are signed photographs, and personal correspondence, and pieces of manuscripts, parts of work in progress.

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It’s an extraordinary collection and fascinating to see in person…there is something touching and so very human about these small pieces of history, these tossed off bits of writing, some lovely, some barely legible.  When I was there earlier this summer, the energy in the room was infectious. People there, myself included, were simply amazed at the scope of the exhibit, and palpably excited to be in the presence of these documents.

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While you’re there, you can check out some Wayne Thiebaud drawings, James Ivory’s annotated film scripts, and some illuminated medieval manuscripts featuring monsters and monstrosities. They are all worth spending some time with, but it’s The Magic of Handwriting that really shines here.

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End your visit by stopping by the Morgan Shop, which has excellent book and gift selections.  The Morgan Library is open Tuesdays through Sundays (and is free Friday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00 pm) and otherwise will cost you $20, $13 if you’re a student or a senior citizen.

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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com.

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Lead-In Image: The Morgan Library & Museum / Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900–1944). Signed handprint, [1935]. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago. © Estate of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

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