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April 22, 2019

Artstor celebrates the earth: Flora, fauna, and natural phenomena

The Artstor Digital Library is replete with images from nature: arks of animals, a plethora of plants, and the dazzling spectacles of the earth. Meticulous renderings of animal and botanical species from classical times through the onset of photography may be studied alongside striking contemporary photographs. Illustrations of animal, plant and mineral specimens are also available as well as records of scientific fieldwork, and larger ecosystems.

Johann Georg Adam Forster. Serval
Johann Georg Adam Forster. Serval, Leptailurus (genus); serval (species), Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. 1775. Image and data provided by the Natural History Museum, London
Stanley N. Botwinik. Leopard portrait.
Stanley N. Botwinik. Leopard portrait. 1970. Tanzania, Serengeti. Image and data provided by Peabody Museum of Natural History (Yale University)
Chris de Bode. A dwarf mouse lemur
Chris de Bode. A dwarf mouse lemur. 2006. West Madagascar, Africa. Image and data provided by © Chris de Bode/Panos Pictures
Ami Vitale. Elephants in Kaziranga National Park
Ami Vitale. Elephants in Kaziranga National Park. 2003. Photograph. Image and data provided by © Ami Vitale/Panos Pictures
Asterope sapphira (nymphalid butterfly)
Asterope sapphira (nymphalid butterfly). Collected January, 1936. Image and data provided by Peabody Museum of Natural History (Yale University)
Fyodor Tolstoy. Butterfly
Fyodor Tolstoy. Butterfly. 1821. Image and data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

The current selection provides a varied sampling of offerings from our living planet, past and present. A delicate watercolor of a serval, 1775, from the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, by the naturalist Georg Adam Forster is probably one of the first known western images of the small savannah cat; it was not until the following year that the serval was classified and named by a German taxonomist. Consider the tiny serval next to the bold, close up photograph Leopard portrait, 1970, by Stanley N. Botwinik — two members of the Felidae family, characterized in different eras by divergent media.

The scope of creatures great and small is evoked by the juxtaposition of the Dwarf Mouse Lemur, 2006, captured by the lens of Netherlander Chris de Bode and Elephants in Kaziranga National Park, 2003 by American photographer Ami Vitale. Weighing about 30 grams, the lemur is the smallest primate, while the elephant, topping out at 6.5 tons, is the world’s largest land mammal.

A brilliant blue specimen of a Brazilian butterfly aptly named Asterope sapphira puts the mimetic powers of Fyodor Tolstoy to the test in his immaculate gouache painting of 1821. In comparison to the specimen, Tolstoy’s butterfly appears almost too perfect to be true. In The Great Turf, 1503, a beloved watercolor by Albrecht Dürer, the artist dwells on the humblest grasses and weeds (note the waning dandelions) rendering a thicket of varied greens like a forest in miniature. The study presents like a manifesto of his adherence to the classical concept of mimesis — that art is the faithful representation of nature. The artist elaborates: “But life in nature manifests the truth of these things. Therefore observe it diligently, go by it and do not depart from nature arbitrarily, imagining to find the better by thyself, for thou wouldst be misled. For, verily, art is embedded in nature; he who can extract it has it.” Dürer’s study provides a verdant foil for the massive stoic trunks of The Twins. Tuolumne Grove. ca. 1878-1884, by George Fiske, one of the pioneering Yosemite photographers. The tiny men on the ground indicate the scale of the massive sequoias reaching hundreds of feet into the sky.

Albrecht Dürer. Large Piece of Turf (The Great Turf). 1503
Albrecht Dürer. Large Piece of Turf (The Great Turf). 1503. Image and data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. Photographer Erich Lessing
George Fiske. The Twins. Tuolumne Grove. ca. 1878-1884
George Fiske. The Twins. Tuolumne Grove. ca. 1878-1884. Image and data provided by the Center for Creative Photography
Peacock feather
Peacock feather. Image and data provided by RISD Library Visual Resources: Nature Forms
Rusty parrotfish from the Red Sea
Rusty parrotfish from the Red Sea. Image and data provided by RISD Library Visual Resources: Nature Forms

Close-up views permit the photographer to record features difficult to perceive in life such as the eyespot of a peacock, designed to attract mates during courting, or the abstract pattern of a rusty parrot fish, a color field that changes through the life cycle.

Peter Marlow. A Rainbow over the City of London

Peter Marlow. A Rainbow over the City of London. 2003. Image and data provided by © Peter Marlow, Magnum Photos

The Rainbow over the City of London, 2003, by the late photographer Peter Marlow, seizes the most fleeting of phenomena: a rainbow is the miraculous outcome of the interplay of water droplets and the sun’s rays. Here Marlow eternalized the ephemeral revealing nature’s resplendence above the great metropolis.

Nancy Minty
Collections Editor

More nature-related collections in Artstor:

Artstor Digital Library:

American Museum of Natural History
Cook’s Voyages to the South Seas (Natural History Museum, London)
First Fleet Collection (Natural History Museum, London)
Foundation for Landscape Studies
Hill Ornithology Collection (Cornell University Library)
Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (Harvard University)
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Public Collections (free access to everyone):

Cornell: Historic Glacial Images of Alaska and Greenland
Cornell: Laboratory of Ornithology Gallery of Bird and Wildlife Art
Field Guide of Biodiversity Images
Hamilton College: Geosciences Rock Collection
Martin Methodist College Marine Biology Collection: Red Sea/Trinidad/Key Largo
RISD Library Visual Resources: Nature Forms
Roanoke College Freshwater Fish Collection
Trinity College Watkinson Library: Enders Ornithology Lantern Slides
Wheaton College (MA): Shell Collection

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April 9, 2019

New: Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Utagawa Hiroshige. Matsuchiyama, San'ya Moat, Night Scene. 1857.
Utagawa Hiroshige. Matsuchiyama, San'ya Moat, Night Scene. 1857. Image and data provided by the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields.
Ejagham people. Janus-faced helmet mask with four superstructure figures. 1930-70.
Ejagham people. Janus-faced helmet mask with four superstructure figures. 1930-70. Image and data provided by the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields.
Willem Kalf. Still Life with a Chinese Porcelain Jar. 1669.
Willem Kalf. Still Life with a Chinese Porcelain Jar. 1669. Image and data provided by the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields.

What’s new in the Artstor Digital Library?

Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Contributor:

Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Content:

The Museum has contributed 4,254 additional images of its encyclopedic collection, bringing the total in Artstor to nearly 6,400.* 5,000 years of global history illustrated by works of art, design, and ritual objects, as well as views from the Newfields campus: gardens, landmarks, and contemporary installations.

Relevance:

Art, culture, and history from around the globe, notably Africa, America, Asia, and Europe

*Totals may vary depending on domestic or international release.

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March 13, 2019

Behind the lens of Frank Cancian, in his own words

Frank Cancian. Shooting back, Juan Vásquez (Pig) family (Another Place). 1971. Black-and-white photograph. © Frank Cancian. Image and data provided by University of California Irvine Libraries.

Frank Cancian. Shooting back, Juan Vásquez (Pig) family (Another Place). 1971. Black-and-white photograph. © Frank Cancian. Image and data provided by University of California Irvine Libraries.

Photographer and anthropologist Frank Cancian has been documenting international communities for more than fifty years. His recent contribution to the Artstor Digital Library, in collaboration with University of California Irvine Libraries, traces his fieldwork from the Italian hill town of Lacedonia during the 1950s to the Maya of Zinacantán, Chiapas during the ’60s and ’70s, and to domestic workers in Orange County, California from 2000 to 2002.

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March 12, 2019

New: Frank Cancian Documentary Photograph Archive

Frank Cancian. In the piazza 3 (Lacedonia Photos). 1957. Black-and-white photograph. © 2001 Frank Cancian. Image and data provided by University of California Irvine Libraries.
Frank Cancian. In the piazza 3 (Lacedonia Photos). 1957. Black-and-white photograph. © 2001 Frank Cancian. Image and data provided by University of California Irvine Libraries.
Frank Cancian. Shooting back, Juan Vásquez (Pig) family (Another Place). 1971. Black-and-white photograph. © Frank Cancian. Image and data provided by University of California Irvine Libraries.
Frank Cancian. Shooting back, Juan Vásquez (Pig) family (Another Place). 1971. Black-and-white photograph. © Frank Cancian. Image and data provided by University of California Irvine Libraries.
Frank Cancian. Victoria Rua (Orange County Housecleaners). 2001. Black-and-white photograph. © 2001 Frank Cancian. Image and data provided by University of California Irvine Libraries.
Frank Cancian. Victoria Rua (Orange County Housecleaners). 2001. Black-and-white photograph. © 2001 Frank Cancian. Image and data provided by University of California Irvine Libraries.

What’s new in the Artstor Digital Library?

Collection:
Frank Cancian Documentary Photograph Archive

Contributor:
University of California Irvine Libraries, Photographer/anthropologist Frank Cancian, Professor Emeritus, UC Irvine

Content:
Approximately 175 photographs spanning Cancian’s career:
The work documents communities in California, Mexico, and Italy, including house cleaners in Orange County (2001-2002); the Maya of Zinacantán, Chiapas (1960-1971), and the townspeople of Lacedonia, a hill town in Avellino (1957).

Relevance:
Economic Anthropology and Social History, Immigration and Human Geography, Photography

*Image totals may vary from country to country, reflecting Artstor’s obligation to address the specifics of international copyright.

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March 11, 2019

Artstor at VRA 2019

Carleton E. Watkins. Los Angeles. 1876. Image and data courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Artstor will be attending the 2019 VRA conference in Los Angeles, California. Join us at our user group meeting to learn the latest updates on Artstor and JSTOR Forum:

Artstor/JSTOR Forum User Group Meeting
Thursday, March 28
3:45 – 4:45 PM
Room TBD

You can also say hello at the Community Partnership Event on Wednesday, March 27 from 2:15 – 4:00 PM.

We look forward to seeing you in Los Angeles!

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March 11, 2019

Artstor at ARLIS 2019

The Gast Lithograph & Engraving Company. Capitol of Utah in Salt Lake City, from the General Government and State Capitol Buildings series (N14) for Allen & Ginter. 1889. Image and data courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Artstor will be attending the 2019 ARLIS conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Here’s where you can find us–stop by and say hello!

Artstor + JSTOR Forum User Group Meeting
Friday, March 29 12:10-1:45 PM
Savoy room, Level 1
(Please RSVP to the event on Sched if you plan to attend)

Booth #72, Exhibit Hall (Level 1)
Thursday, March 28 and Friday, March 29
9:00AM – 5:00PM

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March 4, 2019

What’s in the box? The art of reliquaries

A gilt-silver reliquary with translucent enamel decoration.

Attributed to Jean de Touyl. Reliquary Shrine from the convent of the Poor Clares at Buda. ca. 1325-50. Image and data courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Cloisters Collection.

Relics—bits of bone, clothing, shoes or dust—from Christian martyrs became popular in Western Christianity in the Middle Ages. The cult of relics dates back to the second and third centuries, when martyrs were persecuted and often killed in ways that fragmented the body, which was taboo in Roman society. The intention was to desecrate the body through execution and burning. But, Caroline Walker Bynum and Paula Gerson state that by the “late third to early fourth centuries the fragments of the martyrs had come to be revered as loci of power and special access to the divine” and, by the Second Council of Nicea in 787, relics were required for the consecration of altars.

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February 25, 2019

Walking the red carpet through history: fashion in Artstor

A dress made of beads is displayed on a mannequin.
Beadnet dress. Egyptian. c 2551-2528 BC. Image © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
A painted wooden figure of a woman.
Estate Figure. Egyptian. c. 1981-1975 BC. Image and data courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A peach colored evening dress decorated with rhinestones and a black waist tie.
Norman Norell. Evening dress. c. 1963. Image and original data from the Brooklyn Museum. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A Roman caryatid.
Caryatid of the Canopus. Roman. c. 420 - 413 BCE. Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
A white gathered evening dress displayed on a mannequin.
Madame Alix Grès. Evening dress. 1937. Image and original data from the Brooklyn Museum. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It may come as a surprise that the Artstor Digital Library is flush with fashion. For a dose of glamour, how about a stroll down the red carpet, exploring designs through the ages?

Let’s begin with the ancients: In early dynastic Egypt, the beadnet sheath dress is often depicted in paintings and statuary. A faience (sintered-quartz ceramic) dress from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, reconstructed from thousands of beads found in a burial site, is our oldest surviving example from approximately 2551–2528 BC (this particular garment was used to dress a mummy). In life, these decorative nets were probably worn over plain linen sheaths, giving an effect that approximates the elegant lines of a deftly carved offering figure from the tomb of Meketre (c. 1981-1975 BCE). A similar silhouette is achieved five millenia later in an evening gown by the pioneering American designer Norman Norell through the layering of a peach satin under slip and black rhinestone beaded netting (c. 1963).

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February 12, 2019

Oral histories of the staff of life: CRAFT: Babka and Beyond

Screen Shot 2019-02-11 at 5.00.35 PMThe CRAFT: Babka and Beyond public collection features 28 interviews conducted with people connected to the production and use of grain within the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area in Western Pennsylvania. The stories feature bakers, bakery owners, farmers, and even a Benedictine Monk talking about how grains contribute to larger themes of identity, community, and social capital — whether in agriculture, bread making, or baking.

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January 31, 2019

Picturing the Little Ice Age

Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Return of the Hunters. 1565. Oil on oak panel. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna. Image and data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. Photo Erich Lessing.

In the summer of 1675, Madame de Sévigné, a doyenne of letters, protested from Paris: “It is horribly cold… we think the behaviour of the sun and of the seasons has changed,” prescient witness to the phenomenon now referred to as the Little Ice Age. Over the last century, scientists and historians have gathered evidence of a prolonged period of global climatic volatility from the thirteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries, culminating in a cooling trend in Northern Europe during the 1600s — frigid winters and wet, cold summers. As we bear our share of winter hardships, it might be comforting to gain some historical and pictorial perspective on the polar vortex.

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