CGU co-curator showcases extra-illustrated books

A new exhibit, “Illuminated Palaces: Extra-Illustrated Books From the Huntington Library,” will be on view at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens through October 28, 2013.

From the 18th to the early 20th century, extra-illustration or “grangerizing” as it was often called flourished in England and America. The pastime involved collectors embellishing books by pasting into their pages original art, prints and engravings, maps, autographed letters, sections of other books, manuscripts and memorabilia.

The Huntington owns more than 1,000 of these “illuminated palaces,” many purchased by founder Henry E. Huntington, who obtained some of the finest specimens of extra-illustration to be found. More than 40 examples of this bygone pursuit are featured in “Illuminated Palaces,” a show organized by co-curators Stephen Tabor, curator of early printed books at the Huntington, and Lori Anne Ferrell, an English and history professor at Claremont Graduate University.

In a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Tabor elaborated on the art of extra-illustration.

“Collectors combined books with other treasures by dismantling (critics would say ‘vandalizing’) the original volumes, mounting the leaves and added material in paper frames, and rebinding the whole lot,” he described.

Exhibit highlights include a volume, containing the books of Romans and 1 Corinthians, from the Huntington’s most-famous example of extra-illustration, the Kitto Bible. The Kitto Bible is thought to have begun as 2 volumes but grew to 60 after printmaker James Gibb inserted more than 30,000 prints, engravings, drawings (including a William Blake watercolor) and portions of other historic Bibles.

“It’s an incredible work, absolutely astonishing,” Ms. Ferrell said.

Visitors will also get glimpses of Richard Bull’s 36-volume version of James Granger’s 1769 “Biographical History of England” and an extra-illustrated set of Shakespeare’s works, with the original 9 volumes expanded to 45. Two short videos produced by The Huntington will accompany the exhibition to help visitors get a richer sense of the “internal workings” of grangerized books.

If your visit to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens takes place on a Wednesday in August, you can enjoy the sound of traditional Chinese music, played live in the Chinese Garden, from 1 to 3 p.m. A different soloist will perform each week on a classical instrument such as the dizi, sheng, pipa, erhu and zheng.

Summer hours for the Huntington, which will continue through Labor Day, are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 am. to 4:30 p.m. (The museum is closed on Tuesdays).

Admission is $20 on weekdays, $23 on weekends; $15 weekdays, $18 weekends for seniors; $12 weekdays, $13 weekends for students ages 12 to 18 or with full-time student ID; $8 for children ages 5-11; free for children under 5; and $11 weekdays, $14 weekends for groups of 15 or more.

The Huntington offers free admission on the first Thursday of the month. The August 1 free day is already booked up. Tickets for the next free day on Thursday, September 5 will be available beginning August 1. These tickets can be requested by calling 800-838-3006. You may also reserve your tickets online: selecting from two arrival times: morning (10:30 a.m.) or afternoon (1:30 p.m.) below.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is located at 1151 Oxford Road in San Marino. For information, visit or call (626) 405-2100.

—Sarah Torribio


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