"A Fascinating and Dangerous Pursuit": Isabella's Book Collection

Thursday, September 8, 7 pm
Calderwood Hall

“Books, I fear, are a most fascinating and dangerous pursuit, but one full of pleasure.” So wrote Isabella Stewart Gardner to her close friend and advisor Charles Elliot Norton in 1886. Books became the foundation of Gardner’s collection, and the pleasure and challenge she found in collecting them would quickly ignite her passion for collecting works of art.

Discover new insights into the many treasures in the Museum's rare book collection with art historian Anne-Marie Eze, Associate Librarian for Collections and Programs at Harvard University’s Houghton Library. Eze will discuss some of Isabella's most remarkable acquisitions and offer a closer look at the most spectacular manuscript among them–Jean Bourdichon’s Boston Hours, on view unbound for the first time in the exhibition Close Up: Bourdichon’s Painted Prayers through September 11.


Anne-Marie Eze is Associate Librarian for Collections and Programs at Harvard University’s Houghton Library. Prior to joining Harvard, Eze was Associate Curator of the Collection at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, where she co-curated the award-winning exhibition "Beyond Words: Italian Renaissance Books." Originally from the United Kingdom, Eze has also held curatorial and librarian positions at the British Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, and Cambridge University’s Trinity College Library. She holds degrees from the University of London, including a doctorate from the Courtauld Institute of Art. Eze has published on medieval and Renaissance art and books and the history of collecting. Her latest books are Bourdichon’s Boston Hours and Titian, the Della Rovere Dynasty & His Portrait of Guidobaldo II and his Son, both of which were published in 2021.

Anne-Marie Eze
Image courtesy of Anne-Marie Eze.


Advanced tickets are required and include Museum admission. Adults $20, seniors $18, students $13, free for members and children 17 and under.

Seating in Calderwood Hall is open within each seating level, and is first come, first served. Seating begins 45 minutes before the event. Once the event begins, seating is not guaranteed. For sold-out events, standby tickets may be available in the lobby no earlier than one hour before the performance begins. We cannot guarantee the availability of standby tickets for sold-out events.

To request accessible or wheelchair seating please call the box office at 617 278 5156.

How to Buy Tickets

Online: Click the TICKETS button

By phone: Call the box office at 617 278 5156, Wednesday–Monday, 10 am–4 pm; Thursday until 6 pm; CLOSED TUESDAY

In-person: Visit the Museum and purchase at the door, Wednesday-Monday, 11 am-4:30 pm

*Handling charges apply to these orders

Please note: While the City of Boston’s vaccination and mask mandates are lifted for general museum visits, the Gardner maintains its proof of vaccination and mask requirements for free and ticketed events in Calderwood Hall. Please visit the Know Before You Go web page for additional information, including accepted forms of documentation, or contact the Box Office at 617 278 5156 for further assistance.

Close Up: Bourdichon’s Painted Prayers is part of the Close Up exhibition series that has been generously sponsored by Fredericka and Howard Stevenson. The Museum also receives operating support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which is supported by the state of Massachusetts and the National Endowment for the Arts.