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hand-book," also revised and enlarged by him; from the Musée Océanographique de Monaco, 3 of its current Bulletins; from the National Society for Historical Research, " The Broadway of yesterday, a collection of 20 prints with descriptions," by Charles Hemstreet, New York, 1905; from Mrs. Edward Lyman Short, 2 copies of “Poems by Edward L. Short," New York, 1905; from Dewitt Stilwell, a “Genealogical record of one branch of the Heath, Clark and Cone families,” Syracuse, 1905; from Town Topics Publishing Co., a copy of "Fads and fancies of representative Americans," New York, 1905, one of the five copies printed for non-subscribers; from Howard Townsend, 52 volumes, chiefly French, including a complete set of the works of J. J. Rousseau, 38 volumes, 1738-1793.
At the LENOX Branch the exhibition of works relating to Adolf Menzel was continued, as was also the exhibition of etchings by J. Alden Weir' and J. H. Twachtman. At the Astor the display of plates from “Monuments de l'ancienne architecture russe" of W. Souslow and “ Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam" was continued.
On Monday, January 15, in commemoration of the bicentenary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin on January 17, 1702, was opened at the Lenox branch an exhibition of manuscripts and printed books composed by him, books about him, books printed by him, portraits, views, and other prints connected with him and his times.
Exhibitions at the branches were unchanged, except that at NINETY-SIXTH STREET was put on view a collection of French etchings and lithographs of the early 19th century, loaned by Mr. John C. Gillett. The collection includes specimens of the etchings of Jacques, Hubert, Bracquemond, Veyrassat, Marvy, and Prevost, and of the lithographs of Nanteuil, Laurens, Leroux, Anastasi, and Français, reproducing paintings by Corot, Millet, Rousseau, Diaz, Jacques, Prudhon, Rosa Bonheur, Chardin, Decamps, and others.
Picture bulletins and temporary collections of books on special shelves at the circulation branches were as follows:
EAST BROADWAY, Paintings by Sir E. Landseer; RivingTON STREET, Landing of the Pilgrims, Washington, D. C., Florence, Syria, Switzerland; BOND STREET, Parsifal; OTTENDORFER, Japan, Operas, Manhattan before the Dutch; TOMPKINS SQUARE, Russia, J. G. Whittier; MUHLENBERG, Old New York, Underground railroad, Electrical communication; 34Th Street, College stories, Mark Twain, Jack London; GEORGE BRUCE, Manhattan old and new, Holland; 67TH STREET, Popular authors, Cotton; RIVERSIDE, Automobiles, Pilgrims and Puritans, Indians; WEBSTER, Winter birds; St. AGNES, European geography, Natural Science; AMSTERDAM AVENUE, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne; BloomINGDALE, Famous paintings, Children's school lists; AGUILAR, Greek art, Washington, 125TH STREET, Domestic economy; TOTTENVILLE, Current events.
In addition there were bulletins on Christmas at twenty-two branches, on new books at four branches, on Henry Harland at three branches, on December birthdays of famous men and women at three branches, on New Year's Day at two branches.
LIBRARY FOR THE BLIND. Advantage is taken of the new law permitting books for the blind to be carried free through the mails, to send to any part of the states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, books not needed for immediate circulation in this city. Within the city limits, also, books are sent by mail in increasing numbers to users who prefer to avail themselves of this privilege rather than to call at the library for their books, although the books must be claimed at a post office station as the free carriage does not include delivery by carrier. The following table covering the calendar year 1905 shows the increasing use of the mails for this purpose.
The proportional use of the mails is even larger than indicated above, since the total circulation in the first column includes renewals. It is probable that at least one-fourth of the books given or sent out to blind readers now go by mail. Applications for registration and reference blanks should be addressed to the librarian in charge of the Library for the Blind, 121 West grst Street.
The Library has in print no complete catalogue of its books for the blind; lists of recent accessions have been printed in the Circulation Department's “Monthly List of Additions " for October, 1903, and April, 1904, and there is at the rooms on gist Street a card catalogue of the collection in New York point.
STATUETTE SUPPOSED TO BE THE WORK OF NINI.
Hon. John Bigelow, President of the Board of Trustees, recently presented two photographs of a statuette of Benjamin Franklin owned by Mme. Guérin de Vaux, of Paris, hitherto undescribed; together with two other photographs of two somewhat similar statuettes of Voltaire. The Franklin statuette and one of the two of Voltaire Mr. Bigelow believes to be the work of Nini the Italian sculptor, his reasons for such conviction being set forth in the letter printed below.
21 GRAMERCY PARK, N. Y. DR. J. S. BILLINGS, Director of the New York Public Library. DEAR SIR:
With this note I send you two photographs of a statuette of Franklin which was commended to my attention in a letter of which the following is a copy, that I received in the Spring of 1904 from Madame Guérin de Vaux, its possessor.
“18 RUE PIERRE CHARRON, XVI
“ Paris THE 10TH March. “ DEAR MR. BIGELOW
I am most happy that the photo I could send you was found interesting, and I shall be very satisfied to see reproduced in print an object which is for me a family heirloom.
“My father Mr. Fournier des Orvres was indeed the great grandson of Fournier le Jeune, who was a great printer and possessed much knowledge, born in 1712 died in 1768. My father was the last to bear his name; my sister Mme. de Thore and I are his direct descendants.
“ Fournier le Jeune was very intimate with Franklin. At the "time of my birth, there still existed letters which they had ex"changed and particularly the one which had accompanied the
sending of the statue. Unhappily they have been lost since, and
I am sorry to be unable to send you any written proof of their “ relations.
“ The name of the author is unknown. “Other reproductions of the statue possibly exist as I know for certain that some statues of the same kind have been sometimes “made—several in number. I know indeed two statuettes of Vol“taire of the same type, and which are alike each other. (Mr. "d'Allemagne's collection and Musée Carnavalet in Paris.) These “ statues are made of a white paste, gesso or other composition; “they have been moulded and painted. The hair of the one we pos
sess is certainly real hair of the great Franklin, which has been
stuck; the letter I named before mentioned it. The connaissor "Mr. d'Allemagne declares them of German workmanship.
Regretting to be incapable to give you no more clue concerning the object you pursue, I remain
“GUERIN DE VAUX."
These pictures have never been in commerce, and the only one of them which has ever been published—that giving the side view of Franklin-appeared for the first time, and only, in the Fifth Edition of my Life of Franklin, published in April last. You will agree with me, I think, in regarding these photographs, taken from the only plate ever made of the original, as not only a striking likeness of one of our most distinguished men, but also a work of art of no ordinary merit.
While in Paris last summer I took occasion to visit the two statuettes of Voltaire referred to by Mme. de Vaux as possibly being the work of the same sculptor. Of these I send you also photographs, by which I think you will readily agree with me that while the one in the Musée Carnavalet is unquestionably by the same artist as the Franklin, and was wrought in the same atelier with precisely the same accessories, the other was wrought in a different atelier, with entirely different accessories, and by a very inferior artist. M. Henri d'Allemagne, its proprietor, told me that he bought it in Germany—I think in Hamburg—and deemed it to be probably the work of a German and also the work of the same artist that wrought the Voltaire in the Musée Carnavalet. Neither Mme. de Vaux nor the Directors of the Musée Carnavalet nor M. d'Allemagne had any information nor offered any conjectures as to the author of either of these works. This was largely due, I presume, to the fact that neither of them knew much if anything more about Franklin than his name,
I was not long in reaching the conclusion that Madame de Vaux's statuette of Franklin and the Carnavalet statuette of Voltaire were the work of Nini, an Italian, whose medallions, as you doubtless are well aware, are among the most famous of his period; and that none among them are more valued by connoisseurs and collectors than his medallions of Franklin. I will briefly state the grounds of my faith.
Jean Baptiste Nini was a native of Urbino in Italy and was born in 1716, one year after the death of Louis the Fourteenth. He died in 1786. The latter half of his life he resided in France. When about forty years of age, he established himself in the humble village of Chaumont. Le Ray de Chaumont, while Intendant of the Hotel Royal des Invalides, acquired the seigneurie of Chaumont, on which he discovered a remarkably fine quality of clay for artistic purposes. He also discovered in Nini, who had already acquired reputation as an engraver on glass, peculiar talents for utilizing that clay. He attached Nini to him on a salary of 1,200 francs a year, with lodging, heat and light. Nini began there with engraving on glass and in amusing himself in reproducing on glass the compositions of Boucher. The remarkable plasticity of the clay at Chaumont at length led him to turn his attention to medallions, which he baked in a pottery established on the estate and which were put on the market at the moderate price of 20 sols (cents) apiece. In 1778, as this business with his fame extended, Nini became Director (Regisseur) of the establishment founded at Chaumont by Le Ray, as his patron was usually called. This position he retained until his death.
During Franklin's entire sojourn in Paris he occupied a house on the estate at Passy of Mre. Le Ray, Chevalier Seigneur de Chaumont-sur-Loire et autres lieues, Conseillier du Roy en ses Conseils, Grand Maitre Honoraire des Eaux et forets, Intendant de l'hotel des Invalides y dem't. Paroisse Saint Louis-for it took all these titles to properly describe him in his contract with Nini—and it was through Le Ray that Franklin, until recognized as Minister of the United States, held what intercourse he had with the government of France. Their relations therefore were of the most intimate character. He necessarily fell into correspondingly intimate relations with Nini, who appears to have found him his most profitable model.
The most recent and the most detailed account of this eccentric artist* gives the record of 109 of his medallions, sixty of which are in the Collection of the late Prince A. de Broglie. There are nine medallions of Franklin alone, and five of these belong to the de Broglie collection. None of the eminent sitters for Nini are represented by half as many pieces as Franklin; yet among these were Maria Theresa of Austria, her daughter, Marie Antoinette, Queen of France; three of Louis XV.; Louis XVI.; Duc de Berry; the Empress Catherine of Russia; Voltaire; Le Ray de Chaumont and Therese his wife; the Count de Caylies ; Charles III. of Spain; and three heads in one medallion of Nini himself, his wife and daughter.
The resources of Nini's genius are nowhere better illustrated than in the variety of his portraitures of Franklin. Four of these portraits have the same features but their dates and legends are different. They have in some sort the air of being official portraits of the Savant and the Statesman. Others represent him in a more intimate and familiar guise. In one he wears a fur cap, the reproduction of which has made his features universally known. Another in all respects similar but much rarer shows him with spectacles on his nose. This differs from the two first in the coiffure. The fur cap is exchanged for a long bonnet of liberty like those worn by the Neapolitan fishermen.
It deserves to be remarked here that in the statuette at the Carnavalet Museum, obviously the work of the same artist as that of Franklin, Voltaire's head is covered with a Liberty Cap, showing that it was a kind of head dress which the artist was fond of using with sitters like Voltaire and Franklin whose political principles would permit him to use it.occasionally.
The medallion of Franklin in the fur bonnet is quite the most wide-spread of Nini's work. It was sent to the United States by thousands in barrels. Some of these barrels have since his death been found at Chaumont and some at Nantes, which had never progressed farther toward their destination.
Nini spent fourteen years of his life at Chaumont and they covered all of the years of Franklin's official residence in France. Nothing could be more natural than for Franklin to be drawn into close relations with Fournier-le-Jeune, who was unquestionably the most original and the most famous type-founder that France has ever produced,—obeying the same laws of attraction which had bound him in such intimate relations with William Strahan, a leading printer in England during Franklin's residence there,-and nothing more natural than that Franklin should have presented to Fournier-le-Jeune the statuette which is now the priceless inheritance of Mme. de Vaux.
* Jean-Baptiste Nini : Sa Vie, Son Euvre. 1717-1786. A Storelli. Tours : Imprimerie A. Mame et fils, 1895.