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October 9, 2019

Open Artstor: Folger Shakespeare Library

Open Artstor: Folger Shakespeare Library is now available with a selection of more than 8,000 images from the Digital Image Collection of the Folger Shakespeare Library. Provided under Creative Commons licenses, these images illuminate the history and output of Shakespeare and theater in general, from illustrated manuscripts and rare books, costume and stagecraft, to actors’ portraits and miscellanea. This is part of our new, free initiative to aggregate Open Access museum, library, and archive collections across disciplines on the Artstor platform — already a destination for scholars using visual media. 

Beginning in 1889, Henry Clay Folger and his wife, Emily Jordan Folger, began to amass rare books and associated media, founding the Folger Shakespeare Library, the world’s leader in Shakespeareana, in 1932. Their success may be gleaned from a handful of outstanding examples across the Open Artstor collection. 

John Austen. Hamlet

John Austen. Hamlet, from a set of 121 original drawings. By 1922. Pen and ink. Image and data provided by the Folger Shakespeare Library. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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September 27, 2019

New: 100,000 images from the Wellcome Collection

A woman dropping her porcelain tea-cup in horror upon discovering the monstrous contents of a magnified drop of Thames water; revealing the impurity of London drinking water. Colored etching by W. Heath, 1828

A woman dropping her porcelain tea-cup in horror upon discovering the monstrous contents of a magnified drop of Thames water; revealing the impurity of London drinking water. Colored etching by W. Heath, 1828. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0.

The Open Artstor: Wellcome Collection is now available, featuring a selection of more than 100,000 images from the Wellcome Collection that connect science, medicine, technology, life, and art under Creative Commons licenses. This is part of a new, free initiative to aggregate open museum, library, and archive collections across disciplines on the Artstor platform — already a destination for scholars using visual media.

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September 20, 2019

More open collections coming to Artstor

Annie Cavanagh, A diatom frustule

Color-enhanced image of a diatom frustule by Annie Cavanagh. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0.

Artstor is making an increasing amount of Creative Commons-licensed museum, library, and archive collections selected for their value to the humanities and sciences freely accessible to everyone on its platform — already a destination for scholars using visual media. Researchers will now have a central place in which to discover and use open images from a wide variety of sources alongside other relevant materials.

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August 26, 2019

Browsing Artstor just got easier!

Great news for those who enjoy discovering unexpected new images in Artstor: We made some changes that make it easier to browse works by a single creator and images related to a specific subject!

Now, when you view an image record in Artstor, you can click the name in the creator field to search for other works by the same creator, such as the example below showing works by the photographer Pierre Louis Pierson.

Animated gif showing a view of browsing by author

Pierre-Louis Pierson. Countess de Castiglione. 1895. Image and data courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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August 9, 2019

Pioneers of the deep: early Americans fathom the ocean

James M. Sommerville, Christian Schussele. Ocean Life. c. 1859. Image and data provided by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Public domain.

James M. Sommerville, Christian Schussele. Ocean Life. c. 1859. Image and data provided by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Public domain.

During the mid-nineteenth century, the Atlantic presented a new, rich and formidable frontier to American innovators who were laying the cables for the first transcontinental telegraph, to scientists capturing their first glimpses of aquatic life forms, and to artists exploring the hitherto unseen landscapes of the deep.

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August 5, 2019

Every piece tells a story: decorative arts in the everyday lives of early Americans

Decorative arts, which bridge the realms of fine art and function, often seem to highlight aristocratic tastes. These selections from The Clark’s collection, while valued for their craftsmanship and design, offer insights into the everyday lives of early Americans. These recent additions to the Artstor Digital Library also highlight a new interface in which multiple images of an object are grouped together, allowing users to access alternate views more easily.

Paul Revere, Jr. Sugar bowl and cover. c. 1795. Image and original data provided by Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Paul Revere, Jr. Sugar bowl and cover. c. 1795. Image and original data provided by Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Paul Revere, Jr. Teapot. c. 1785. Image and original data provided by Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Paul Revere, Jr. Teapot. c. 1785. Image and original data provided by Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Paul Revere Jr. teapot (detail showing embossed mark). c. 1785. Image and original data provided by Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Paul Revere, Jr. teapot (detail showing embossed mark). c. 1785. Image and original data provided by Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

The first selections were crafted by a familiar name from the Colonial period, Paul Revere. Although he is best known for his historic ride, he prided himself as a master artisan. Views of this Neoclassical sugar bowl illustrate his advanced skills and sense of design. The tea kettle, perhaps an early example of Revere Ware (see the embossed mark in detail), was a more common piece in colonial kitchens. It reminds us of tea’s importance to the colonists – which was also borne out by the infamous protest of the British tea tax, the Boston Tea Party. Revere was in sympathy with this cause; he captured some of the passions that led up to the rebellion in a famous engraving of the Boston Massacre. (1)

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July 25, 2019

Three ornithology collections that are free as the birds

The history of ornithology (the scientific study of birds) has involved observations captured in imagery going as far back as prehistoric stone-age drawings.[1] As ornithology developed as a natural science it faced the aesthetic challenge of convincingly capturing depictions of different bird species,[2] leading to beautifully documented and historically fascinating works of illustration.

Several Artstor public collections — available freely to anyone — showcase ornithological illustration starting as early as the 16th century and on through to the 19th century. Here are three of our favorites:

Cornell’s Laboratory of Ornithology Gallery of Bird and Wildlife Art has more than 1,000 works of art from the last two centuries by bird artists such as Alexander Wilson, John James Audubon, and Louis Agassiz Fuertes.

Alexander Pope, Jr. The Pinnated Grouse. 1878.
Alexander Pope, Jr. The Pinnated Grouse. 1878. Cornell University Lab of Ornithology Art Collection.
Louis Agassiz Fuertes. Imperial Eagle. Ca. 1895.
Louis Agassiz Fuertes. Imperial Eagle. Ca. 1895. Cornell University Lab of Ornithology Art Collection

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July 17, 2019

Dostoevsky and the challenge of Hans Holbein’s Dead Christ

Vasily Perov. Portrait of Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1872.

Vasily Perov. Portrait of Fyodor Dostoevsky. 1872. Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y., artres.com, scalarchives.com

In August 1867, shortly after Fyodor Dostoevsky married his stenographer Anna Snitkina, the couple headed to Geneva. As much as a honeymoon, they were also fleeing family tensions and hounding by Fyodor’s many creditors. On the way, the newlyweds stopped in Basel for a day and visited its museum. It was there that the famed writer of Crime and Punishment had an unsettling encounter with an artwork that would soon appear in one of his most esteemed novels.

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July 9, 2019

Books of hours: illuminating the Trinity College Watkinson Library public collection

Attributed to Studio of unknown French (illuminator), Possibly Style of unknown Flemish (illuminator). c.1470 (creation date). Book of Hours (Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis in Usum Ecclesiae Romanae cum Calendario), Folio 86v: Hours of the Virgin: Compline: Entombment, overall, left, with Folio 87r at right. Illumination, Leaf (component), Manuscript. Place: Trinity College, Watkinson Library (Hartford, Connecticut, USA).

Attributed to Studio of unknown French (illuminator), Possibly Style of unknown Flemish (illuminator). c.1470 (creation date). Book of Hours (Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis in Usum Ecclesiae Romanae cum Calendario), Folio 86v: Hours of the Virgin: Compline: Entombment, overall, left, with Folio 87r at right. Illumination, Leaf (component), Manuscript. Place: Trinity College, Watkinson Library (Hartford, Connecticut, USA).

Books of hours are devotional texts that contain a personalized selection of prayers, hymns, psalms, and New Testament excerpts chosen specifically for their owner. Popular in the Middle Ages, the most expensive of these books could be highly decorated, but the more affordable versions usually only showed minimal decoration, usually of the first letter of a page. They had, in fact, become so popular by the 16th century that they were often owned by people from all walks of society; servants even had their own copies—there is a court case from 1500 where a pauper woman was accused of stealing a servant’s book of hours. 

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