History Marked by Hand
An extraordinary collection of handwritten documents
Handwriting works magic: it transports us back to defining moments in history, creativity, and everyday life and connects us intimately with the people who marked the page. For nearly half a century, Brazilian author and publisher Pedro Corrêa do Lago has been assembling one of the most comprehensive autograph collections of our era, acquiring thousands of handwritten letters, manuscripts, and musical compositions as well as inscribed photographs, documents, and drawings.
From an 1153 parchment signed by four medieval popes to a 2006 thumbprint signature by physicist Stephen Hawking, the items illustrated here span nearly nine hundred years, and along the way bring us up close and personal with writers, artists, composers, political figures, performers, explorers, scientists, philosophers, and rebels whose actions and creations have made them legends.
Rather than focusing on a single era or subject, Corrêa do Lago made the ambitious decision to seek important autographs in eight broad areas of human endeavor—art, history, literature, science, music, philosophy, exploration, and entertainment. The 140 extraordinary selections gathered in this book—displayed for the first time in a major exhibition at New York’s Morgan Library and Museum—include letters by Lucrezia Borgia, Vincent van Gogh, and Emily Dickinson, annotated sketches by Michelangelo, Jean Cocteau, and Charlie Chaplin, and manuscripts by Giacomo Puccini, Jorge Luis Borges, and Marcel Proust.
Handwriting is one of the most visceral means by which we leave tracks of our existence. At a time when so much of our communication has become utterly immaterial, this collection conveys the power of the pen to illuminate the energy, passion, vulnerability, and imagination of humankind across the ages.
“It is the culmination of a life dedicated to the search and capture of documents signed by historical figures.”
— El País
Christine Nelson is the Drue Heinz Curator of Literary and Historical Manuscripts at the Morgan Library & Museum. She is the author of The Brontës: A Family Writes and Drawing Babar: Early Drafts and Watercolors and has curated major exhibitions on the work of Henry David Thoreau, Charlotte Brontë, Robert Burns, Oscar Wilde, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and Voltaire.
From the collection of:
Pedro Corrêa do Lago is a Brazilian art historian and curator who has formed one of the world’s largest private collections of autograph letters and documents. He is the author of more than 20 books on manuscripts and Brazilian art and served as president of Brazil’s National Library from 2003 to 2005. Together with his wife Bia, he founded Capivara in 2002, an art publishing house specialized in catalogues raisonnés of artists active in Brazil. Corrêa do Lago has curated several exhibitions and has published an illustrated book on manuscripts, True to the Letter.
Julius Wiedemann studied graphic design and marketing and was an art editor for newspapers and design magazines in Tokyo before joining TASCHEN in 2001. His titles include the Illustration Now! and Record Covers series, as well as the infographics collection and books about advertising and visual culture.
Located in the heart of New York City, the Morgan Library & Museum began as the private library of financier John Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913), one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in United States history. Today it is a museum, research library, performance venue, architectural landmark, and historic site housing one of the world’s foremost collections of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, literary and historical manuscripts and letters, music manuscripts, rare printed books and bindings, drawings, and ancient works of art.