Friday, 25 November 2011

Last Slave Market

Last Slave Market

I attended a talk in the NLS by Alister Hazell who discussed his research into the life of the Scottish explorer Dr John Kirk, who fought against the slave trade in East Africa including the infamous Zanzibar slave market which closed in 1873. There was a House of Commons Commission set up and I thought it would be interesting to look at this parliamentary paper. I decided to use the on-line electronic resource called HCPP which stands for the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers. It is a full-text digital archive to the 19th and 20th century House of Commons parliamentary papers, 1801 to 2000, with an index of papers to 2004. It also includes debates, proceedings and reports of the committees and outside bodies on public affairs.
I did a simple search using the words: slave, trade, Zanzibar and dates 1870, 1874
And the wealth of information that appeared on my screen was amazing.
I found the actual treaty that mentioned Dr John Kirk and the suppression of the slave trade, but also found House of Commons and Lords Hansard extracts.
I usually prefer looking at the paper copy as there is something exciting about opening an old volume of parliamentary papers, but for the convenience at getting all the information I need on my screen HCPP is excellent and saves a lot of time.
Note on licensed digital collections
When you register with the National Library of Scotland you have free access to an extensive range of licensed digital collections. If your main address is in Scotland you can also use many of these resources from any computer outwith NLS. You can also use a number of open access resources without registering.
Picture credit:-

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Painter at the court of Milan

The landmark Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in London, which examines his career as a painter in Milan, is thought to be one of the most popular art exhibitions ever. The National Gallery is showing more than half of all the surviving da Vinci paintings and seven paintings which have never been shown publicly before. These, alongside many drawings, offer a unique opportunity to compare his works and understand his influences.
I won't be able to travel to London to see it and I believe that tickets are now scarce so I was very pleased to see the exhibition catalogue book arrive in the OPU office last week.
The book focuses on the period in the 1480s and 1490s when Leonardo was working as a salaried court artist to Duke Ludovico Sforza in Milan. During this time, freed from the commercial pressures of Florence, Leonardo produced some of his most influential work. The book has large glossy illustrations and detailed analyses of these - his two versions of The Virgin of the Rocks, The Last Supper and The Lady with an Ermine together with details and drawn studies.
There are essays on Leonardo's service to the Duke of Milan, his painting technique and studies of other works in the catalogue.
Leonardo set a new standard when he was in Milan; his style became the visual language of the regime through his ideals of beauty and his theories of expression and character.

Leonardo da Vinci: painter at the court of Milan by Luke Syson (et al) is at NLS shelfmark OP4.211.2 and the National Gallery exhibition runs until 5th February 2012.