Manuscripts

National Art Library

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The National Art Library holds a rich collection of unique manuscript material ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day, in the form of bound volumes, single documents and whole archives. It encompasses illuminated manuscripts, modern calligraphy, literary manuscripts, how-to recipe books, papers of antiquarians, artists and scholars, correspondence, inventories, business papers, and many more miscellaneous wonders.

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Highlights include five notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, the original manuscripts for most of Charles Dickens’s novels, calligraphic work by Edward Johnston, one of Jonathan Swift’s diaries, a missal made in the 14th century for the Abbey of Saint-Denis in Paris, and the archives of Joseph Archer Crowe and Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle, 19th-century specialists of Italian Renaissance art.

Collection Highlights

Page 91 recto from Volume II of the Foster Codex, Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. MSL/1876/Forster/141/2. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Li tre libri dell'arte del vasaio, Cipriano Piccolpasso, 1556 – 59, Italy. Museum no. MSL/1861/7446. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Pages 83 verso and 84 recto – The Flight to Egypt from Book of Hours of Margaret of Foix, 1471 – 76, possibly Rennes, France. Museum no. MSL/1910/2385. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Iluminated address by the Tenants of the Courtroom estates for Lord Viscount Stopford, 1875 – 78. Museum no. MSL/1984/69/1. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Manuscript cutting, from choirbook, painted by Girolamo da Cremona, probably made for the convent of Santa Giustina in Padua, about 1462, Lombardy, Italy. Museum no. 817-1894. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
manuscript
The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by Charles Dickens, about 1870, Britain. Museum no. MSL/1866/Forster/167/1, f. 5r. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
manuscript
Entartete Kunst: A typescript inventory for The Reichsministerium für Volksaufklarüng und Propaganda, vol. 1, 1941 or 1942, Germany. Museum no. MSL/1996/7/1, p. 179. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Page from Homilies on the Archangel Michael, about 1560, Ethiopia. Museum no. MSL/1903/2081 (Reid 79). © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
manuscript
Chambord Missal, 1844, Paris, France. Museum no. MSL/1984/68, f. 49r. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
manuscript
Al-Wajiz, or an abridged commentary on the Koran, 1478, Egypt. Museum no. MSL/1869/7219, f. 2a © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
A Book of Verse, William Morris, 1870, London. Museum no. MSL/1953/131. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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Letters from Edward Johnston to Giorgiana, Helen, Elizabeth and Mary MacRae, 1897 – 1906, Britain. Museum no. MSL/1959/4394. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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