For the second year in a row, a publication of our Rare Book Collection has earned an award from the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL). The exhibition catalogue for our Fall 2016 exhibition, Representing the Law in the Most Serene Republic: Images of Authority from Renaissance Venice, is the winner of the 2019 Publication Award from AALL’s Academic Law Libraries Special Interest Section. The award is bestowed annually to recognize a “significant contribution to scholarly legal literature.”
The exhibition, and its catalogue, were co-authored by Christopher W. Platts and myself. Platts is presently Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art at Vassar College, and was a Ph.D. student in History of Art here at Yale when the exhibition appeared. The idea for the exhibition was Christopher’s, as was the bulk of the writing, research, and selection of items.
The catalogue explores how the Venetian Republic – a prosperous and powerful state in early modern Europe – cultivated a mythical image of stability, liberty, and beauty. Focusing primarily on the outstanding holdings of Italian law books in the Yale Law Library’s Rare Book Collection, the publication presents 25 objects of remarkable splendor and historical significance. These include illuminated manuscripts, illustrated books, prints, drawings, coins, and medals, nearly a dozen of which were borrowed from other Yale art and library collections.
The catalogue also introduces the most significant offices and symbols of the Venetian state, and explains how laws were crafted, debated, publicized, and flouted. The protagonists of the stories recounted herein are the doge (duke) and highest magistrates of Venice, the governors appointed to rule the Republic’s far-flung territories, the lawmakers in the Senate, and the lawbreakers consigned to prison or to the galleys – all of them illustrated in finely executed representations in various media.
A digital version of the print catalogue is available in the Law Library’s Yale Law School legal Scholarship Repository:
The previous award from AALL was the 2018 Joseph L. Andrews Legal Literature Award for Law’s Picture Books: The Yale Law Library Collection (Michael Widener & Mark S. Weiner, eds.; Clark, NJ: Talbot Publishing, 2017).
– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian
Institutio in potestatem civitatis Bergomi data Laurentii Venerio ab Andrea Griti duce Venetiarum. 1524. Manuscript on parchment. Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library.