In March of 2018 I had the opportunity to attend The Enlightenment Creation of World Religion: Bernard and Picart’s Cérémonies et coutumes religieuses, a symposium on one of the most important works on comparative religion from the early modern period. Through a series of engaging lectures and hands-on activities, I learned about this 400 year-old bestselling book based around a lavish set of illustrations made by Bernard Picart, a leading European engraver. The symposium was very thorough, challenging and inspiring, and what was shared and discussed continues to support both my teaching and research. For me, one of the many highlights was having a session in which participants were able to see and handle a number of rare books from the collection to better understand what the paper, printing, binding, etc. could reveal about the history behind the creation of these important volumes. Among other treasures, we were able to view an original copy of Cérémonies et coutumes religieuses (1727-1838), an edition of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (1732) featuring engravings by Bernard Picart, and many other beautifully illustrated works including Giovanni Battista Ramusio’s Delle Navigationi et Viaggi (1485-1557), one of the earliest and most important collections of voyages and travels to the Americas.
I was also so grateful for the chance to meet people with similar interests from a wide variety of professional fields and everyone in Newberry Library community was incredibly welcoming and helpful. I am grateful that Louisville’s membership in the CRS consortium makes experiences like this possible, and I hope to return to the Newberry again soon!
Prof. Rachel Singel
Department of Fine Arts
University of Louisville