Exhibitions archive

The History of the Golden Compass: Books by the Officina Plantiniana Throughout the Centuries

11.06.2020 – 19.07.2020

Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania presents the exhibition „The History of the Golden Compass: Books by the Officina Plantiniana Throughout the Centuries” commemorates the 500th anniversary of the birth of Christophe Plantin (1520-1589), the founder of the famous publishing house, the Officina Plantiniana.

The name of Plantin became a household name, known to all lovers of the old book. The books published in the Officina Plantiniana were exceptional for their thorough preparation, high quality and artistry. It could not have been otherwise, because the motto of the publishing house solemnly proclaims: Labore et constantia, or By work and constancy! This motto is incorporated into all the signets of the Officina Plantiniana which depict the hand holding a compass. The motto and the symbol of the compass are closely related: the moving part of the compass symbolizes work (Labore), and the stable part—endurance and constancy (Constantia).

The books on display, housed in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the National Library of Lithuania, come from the 16th-18th-century collection. They cover different themes and present various activities of the Officina Plantiniana: missals, books about the Catholic saints, the Bible, among which—the Royal Bible—Plantin's masterpiece, emblematic meditations, botanical, astronomical and medical works, as well as historical works and commentaries on Classical antiquity by Justus Lipsius (1547-1606), one of the most famous Flemish humanists of all time.

The exhibition showcases the works of artists with close ties to the publishing house. Among them is one of the early studies of Silvester Petra Sancta (1590-1647) on heroic symbols with the title page created by the famous European Baroque artist Peter Paul Rubens (1557-1640).

The Officina Plantiniana left its mark on the history of European culture. We invite you to explore and get to know it better.

Curators: dr. Milda Kvizikevičiūtė and Eva Praškevič.

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