The Magic of Handwriting: The Pedro Corrêa do Lago Collection at The Morgan Library & Museum, June 1 – September 16, 2018
“The Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, one of the great autograph collectors of the twentieth century, once begged Rainer Maria Rilke for a precious gift: the manuscript of one of Rilke’s own poems. “I realize it is a lot to ask,” Zweig told his friend, “for I know the magic of handwriting well, and I know that the gift of a manuscript is also the gift of a secret—a secret that unveils itself only for love.”
The Brazilian collector Pedro Corrêa do Lago shares Zweig’s conviction that handwriting works magic. At the age of twelve, Corrêa do Lago began sending letters to prominent people to solicit their autographs. Over time, he assembled an extraordinary collection of handwritten letters, manuscripts, and musical compositions as well as inscribed photographs, drawings, and documents in six broad areas of human endeavor—art, history, literature, science, music, and entertainment. From an 1153 papal bull to a 2006 thumbprint signature of Stephen Hawking, the items on view here—selected by Corrêa do Lago from his vast holdings—convey the power of handwriting to conjure what Zweig called a “magic circle” of writers, artists, composers, political figures, performers, explorers, scientists, philosophers, rebels, and others whose actions and creations have made them legends.” — Introductory Wall Text
Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564). Pen and ink drawing with autograph instructions for a marble order for the facade of San Lorenzo, [Florence, 1518]. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.
Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727). Autograph manuscript related to coinage during his service to the Royal Mint, undated [after 1696 and before 1727]. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.
Adam Smith (1723–1790). Autograph letter signed, presumably to Thomas Cadell, [London, March 1767?]. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791). Concluding portion of an autograph letter signed, to his father, Leopold Mozart, [Mannheim], 7 February 1778. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.
Marie Antoinette (1755–1793). Letter signed, to Ferdinand IV, King of Naples, Versailles, 24 September 1788. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.
Victoria (1819–1901). Autograph letter signed, from seven-year-old Victoria, the future Queen of Great Britain, to her uncle Prince Frederick, the Duke of York and Albany, Tunbridge Wells, 16 August 1826. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.
Oscar Wilde (1854–1900). Autograph letter signed, to Bram Stoker, London, [1879 or 1880]. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.
Signed cabinet photograph of Oscar Wilde (1854–1900), inscribed to James E. Kelly, 1882; photograph by Napoleon Sarony. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.
Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924). The Girl of the Golden West (La Fanciulla del West), autograph manuscript draft of a portion of act 1, ca. 1908. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.
Marcel Proust (1871–1922). Swann’s Way (Du côté de chez Swann), autograph manuscript draft of the opening passage, ca. March–April 1913. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago. Image used with permission of the Proust Estate.
Signed photograph of Emiliano Zapata (1879–1919), inscribed to Domingo Arenas Pérez, Tlaltizapán, Mexico, 12 November 1915; photograph by Heliodoro J. Gutiérrez, 1914. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.
Signed photograph of Sun Yat-sen (1866–1925), by Burr Photo Co., Shanghai, 1912 or later. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.
Sun Yat-sen (1866–1925). Autograph letter signed, to Ellen Armour Troxel, Tokyo, 2 February 1915. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.
Signed photograph of Josephine Baker (1906– 1975), inscribed to Mlle Le “Dunf.,” Paris, 1930; photograph by R. Sobol. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.
Sigmund Freud (1856–1939). Autograph invoice signed, to Roy Grinker, written on a personal correspondence card, Vienna, 30 June 1934. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.
Allen Ginsberg (1926–1997). Signed self-portrait photograph, inscribed, Summit Ayers Rock Self Portrait Arms Length, 24 March 1971 [i.e., 1972]. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago. Courtesy Allen Ginsberg LLC
Stephen Hawking (1942–2018). Signed title page from A Brief History of Time (1993), with thumbprint signature witnessed by Hawking’s personal assistant, Judith Croasdell, inscribed by Croasdell to Philip Dynes, 9 October 2006. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.
The Magic of Handwriting: The Pedro Corrêa do Lago Collection is organized by the Morgan Library & Museum, New York.