University of Virginia Library University of Virginia
Rare Materials Digital Services: : Collections
Gordon Library stampThe Renaissance in Print: Sixteenth-Century French Books in the Douglas Gordon Collection

Literary Works
Emblem Books
Printed Hours
Travel Narratives
French Wars of Religion
Books for Women
Architecture
French Language

Image from VernayThe University of Virginia Library and the University of Virginia French Department are pleased to announce an expansion of the Renaissance in Print (Gordon Project), made possible by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and continued support from the Florence Gould Foundation.   Digital facsimiles of 16th-century French books in the Douglas Gordon Collection continue to be made available on this site thanks to the support of the Florence Gould Foundation.  New titles are listed on the Index page.  A Preservation and Access grant award from the NEH will fund the development of a significantly expanded set of reference materials over the next two years.       – June 2006

Read more about the expanded project.

Bust of Douglas GordonThe Gordon Collection comprises some 1200 volumes of French books dating from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century. Over 600 were printed before 1600, and many retain their original bindings. The collection, which came to the University of Virginia in 1986, was the bequest of the late Douglas Huntly Gordon of Baltimore, a prominent Maryland attorney, former president of St. John’s College in Annapolis, and recipient of the French Légion d'Honneur and Palmes Académiques. A Francophile since his undergraduate days at Harvard, Mr. Gordon was one of the most distinguished American bibliophiles of the 20th century.

Detail of Gordon books on shelfThe approximately 600 Gordon books dating from the sixteenth century include literary works and titles pertaining to religion, philosophy, medicine, astronomy, travel and architecture. Together, they provide a remarkable window on the French Renaissance. The rarity of so many of the books, combined with the size and range of the collection, make it a treasure for Renaissance scholars from around the world, as well as those studying the early history of printing and the book arts. In fact, many of the volumes are counted among only a few surviving copies, and, in some cases, the Gordon book is the only known copy in the world. Among the rarest sixteenth-century titles in the collection, for example, are an illustrated edition of Marot’s Blasons anatomiques du corps feminin…, published by Charles Langelier in Paris in 1543, and a little-known volume of Alciati’s emblems, Les emblemes de M. Andre Alciat,/ traduits en ryme Francoise par Iean le Feure, published in Lyon by Jean de Tournes in 1549, with woodcuts attributed to Bernard Salomon.

For questions related to this project or to find out how you can help, contact: Christina Deane, Head of Digitization Services, .