Blackstone famously compared the English law to a Gothic Castle. Though he was writing at the start of the Gothic revival, his approach was rather classical, and, of course, Blackstone wrote about architecture before he wrote about law. It is an interesting thought that he may have used an orderly classically-trained architect’s eye to the task of organizing English law in his Commentaries.
A legal treatise as a work of art? Very few people would confuse the two, yet William Blackstone wrote about architecture before turning to law, and may have brought his orderly artist’s eye to bear in organizing the law in his landmark Commentaries on the Laws of England, an 18th-century bestseller and the most influential book in the history of Anglo-American law.
On Friday 17 April, 2015, the Yale Law Library will host a talk by Dr. Cristina S. Martinez entitled “Blackstone’s Commentaries: A Work of Art?” in conjunction with the exhibition, “250 Years of Blackstone’s Commentaries“, already noted in this Blog. Her talk will be accompanied by Mark Weiner’s video, “Blackstone Goes Hollywood”, which includes interviews with Mike Widener and Wilfrid Prest, co-curators of the exhibition. The talk will take place Friday, April 17, in Room 122 of Yale Law School, 127 Wall Street, at 11am. It is free and open to the public. This Blog urges anyone nearby who can to attend.
The speaker, Dr Martinez, received a PhD in Art History and Law from Birkbeck College, University of London. She is an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa and a Faculty Member of the International Summer Institute for the Cultural Study of Law at the University of Osnabrück in Germany. She is the author of the forthcoming book Art, Law, and Order: The Legal Life of Artists in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Manchester University Press) and contributed “Blackstone as Draughtsman: Picturing the Law” to the collection edited by Wilfrid Prest, Re-Interpreting Blackstone’s Commentaries (2014).
AS already noted in this Blog, the exhibit “250 Years of Blackstone’s Commentaries” is on display through June 2, 2015, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, located on Level L2 of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School. The exhibition will then travel to London, where it will be on view September through November 2015 at the library of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, and then on to Sir John Salmond Law Library, University of Adelaide, December 2015 to February.
The exhibit can also be viewed in the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. For more information, contact Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian, at (203) 432-4494.
This Blog-entry is adapted from: https://networks.h-net.org/node/16794/discussions/66931/exhibition-talk-250-years-blackstones-commentaries