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Read, Watch and Listen

Mother and Child on a Bathing Machine, Ambrotype

While the smile might be absent or restrained in early commercial seaside photography; tenderness is not. Surviving modest ambrotypes such as this of a mother and child on the steps of a bathing machine, counter connotations of the ambro’ and tintype as disposable shoreline amusement. Rather than cheap seaside ephemera, a revised consideration might be offered, whereby these modest portraits became important affordable keepsakes.

The Henry VIII Psalter, London, c. 1540. Owned by Henry VIII. Royal 2 A. xvi, f.

Henry VIII Praying in his Bedchamber

Portrayed as we might expect him to appear at the age of 49 (his age when this book was made), Henry VIII holds a book that represents this book, his own Psalter. The writing in the margin is one of the King’s many annotations; he has written in Latin, ‘note who is blessed’. Placed at the beginning of the Psalms, Henry VIII’s portrait aligns him with King David, the supposed author of the Psalms. As seen in other copies of the Psalms in this exhibition, David’s portrait typically occupies this place in Psalters.

EurekaVision multi-spectral imaging system

The team transported the system from the U.S. MegaVision E6, 39 megapixel camera back (7216 X 5412 pixels; 16-bit data with approximately 12 bits of dynamic range) mounted in a technical view camera with a 60mm UV-VIS-IR lens and a colour filter wheel installed for UV fluorescence studies. Ken Boydston sets up imaging system in the reprographics department of the National Library of Scotland. The LED illumination array and diffuser can be seen in the background.

Manual marking the UK launch of 'Conovid'

A reworked booklet, focusing on patient FAQs, was circulated in October 1961, anticipating the Family Planning Association’s provision of ‘Conovid’ at select branches, and limited availability (subject to a fee) through the National Health Service. January 1961. Drug Reference Manual No. 85. Searle / 'Conovid'. By kind permission of Pfizer. Courtesy of Julia Larden, and the Wellcome Library, London. Photography by J Borge 2014 CC BY 4.0

Three Women by a Bathing Machine, Ambrotype circa 1870

If seaside photography was taken for amusement, then somewhat paradoxically the three women seen in this ambrotype (sitting directly on the sand and in front of large bathing machine cartwheels) look far from amused. This is typical. These early beach portraits show the clients repeatedly dressed in their best clothes and despite the location of production, the Victorian sitter sought a dignified representation that echoed studio portraiture.

The Secretum secretorum, London, 1326–27. Purchased for the nation in 1952. Additional 47680, ff. 10v-11

How to be a King

Prince Edward’s Manual of Kingship

The king’s clerk Walter of Milemete commissioned this manuscript of the Secretum secretorum (Secret of Secrets) as a gift for the future Edward III. In the Middle Ages the Secretum compendium of knowledge for a king was believed to be a work that the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle had composed for his pupil Alexander the Great. Here, Alexander receives the book from a messenger who bears on his girdle the heraldic arms used by Prince Edward when Earl of Chester. In the lower margins, Edward’s arms are accompanied by those of his father, Edward II, and his two uncles.

Capturing the images

Each LED panel contained seven banks of LEDs that emit in the ultraviolet and visible regions of the spectrum and five additional clusters of LEDs that emit in the infrared region. A primary advantage of the system is that LEDs do not generate heat that can damage fragile pages. The EurekaVision system illuminated each Livingstone folio, while the monochrome camera automatically photographed the folio under each illumination.

Superimposition of the newly emblematic round over a couple walking in the snow invokes the nascent role of pharmaceuticals as protectors of marital cooperation

Searle, facing imminent competition in the UK market, sought corporate synonymy with ‘the Pill’. “Conovid oral contraceptive. The responsible answer to a universal problem". Journal ad. [detail], Practitioner, January 1962. Searle / 'Conovid'. By kind permission of Pfizer. Courtesy of Julia Larden, and the Wellcome Library, London. Photography by J Borge 2014 CC BY 4.0

Couple on the Sands, Ambrotype

This ambrotype shows how norms are plastic and how these 19th century itinerant seaside images are an important material demonstration of representational shifts in portraiture. The couple, sitting closely together suggest a more relaxed presentation and in the woman we see a hint of a smile.​

La Grande histoire César. Bruges, 1479. Owned by Edward IV. Royal 17 F. ii, f. 9r

A Biography of Julius Caesar

The scribe of this manuscript wrote that it was made in Bruges in 1479 by order of the ‘treshault, tres excellent, et tres victorieux prince’ (very exalted, excellent and victorious prince) Edward IV. The copyist included a French biography of Julius Caesar, long popular with the nobility, as well as two additions that may have been made at the King’s request – an account of the reign of Augustus and a list of Roman emperors. The opening illustration shows Caesar’s fabled birth by Caesarian section, a term derived from this event.