The Craft of Collecting: Hiero von Holtorp and the Creation of Bibliography

Project Summary

This project is hosted by: Institute of English Studies

Research interests:
Academic Support, English Literature, History of the book
Africa, Africa, Asia, Asia, Europe, Europe, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
Project period:
17-Sep-2015 - 16-Sep-2018
Project categories:
Fellowship grant
Project summary:

Hiero von Holtorp’s collection has a gripping narrative. For fifty years, the Victorian
collector aimed to explain the invention of printing as a cultural phenomenon. In
scientifically and aesthetically arranged albums, he recontextualised thousands of
print specimens that represent all major, and most minor, artists and printers from
every corner of the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century print world. After he died,
Enriqueta Rylands acquired all twenty lots of his collection at Sotheby’s in 1906 for
£742 15s (£600,000 today) for the John Rylands Library. It has reemerged a
century later, still in his arrangement and with his notes. As a rare, fully intact
model of Victorian collecting, it gives extraordinary insights into his obsession, the
rise of Victorian aesthetic collecting practices, and the origins of the field of
bibliography. This project reconstructs the connections that Holtorp built into his
careful organisation of art historical and bibliographical material, exploring his
engagement with individual objects and the collecting practice of creating order
through design. 

Management Details

Lead researcher & project contact:

Name Position Institute Organisation Contact
Dr Elizabeth Savage Lect. & British Academy Post Doc. Fellow Institute of English Studies SAS