Skip to Main Content


February 3, 2016

Studying theatre with Artstor’s public collections

Editor’s note: this post was originally published in February 2013 and has been updated to reflect platform changes.

Did you know that Artstor contains publicly available collections that cover everything from flowers and turtles to medicine labels and political memorabilia–and are are also a great resource for theatre studies? Below, we discuss five collections which offer a fascinating view of the history and art of theatre, including books, costume and set design, and even photographs of productions.

Continue Reading »

February 3, 2016

Reading the Codex Mendoza

The Codex Mendoza, early 1540s

The ‘Codex Mendoza’, pt. I.; fol. 002r, early 1540s. Image and original data provided by the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Copyright Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

As we built our AP® Art History Teaching Resources over the last three years, we found ourselves fascinated by some of the newly required content. The art of the Colonial Americas is represented in the curriculum framework by six distinct objects. One of these is the “Codex Mendoza,” named for the first viceroy of Mexico (1535-1550), who commissioned it c. 1542 (contributed to the Artstor Digital Library by the Bodleian Library). Intended as a gift to Charles V, the manuscript never reached the monarch.

Continue Reading »

January 28, 2016

Artstor and ITHAKA join forces

Alliance will enhance access to multimedia digital resources to support education and research


James Shulman, President of Artstor, and Kevin Guthrie, President of ITHAKA, today announced a new strategic alliance between the two not-for-profit organizations that will benefit thousands of colleges, universities, schools, museums, and other educational institutions. Artstor, the provider of the Artstor Digital Library of images and the Shared Shelf platform for cataloguing and digital asset management, will now function under the umbrella of ITHAKA, which currently operates the services JSTOR, Portico and Ithaka S+R.

Continue Reading »

Posted in
January 20, 2016

Diego Rivera: the artist through his own eyes

Frida Kahlo is world-famous for her self-portraits, which were a big part of her relatively small oeuvre (55 out of 144 paintings), while her husband Diego Rivera, despite producing much more work than Kahlo, only painted himself approximately 20 times. Why is that?

Continue Reading »

Posted in
November 23, 2015

Audubon and Audubon


Attributed to John James Audubon, Pomarine Jager; Lestris Pomarinus, 1827-38. Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y.;

No doubt you are familiar with the work of the renowned wildlife artist John James Audubon, most likely his famous prints from The Birds of America. But did you know he wasn’t the only artist in the family? His son, John Woodhouse Audubon, spent much of his career supporting the work of his father, but he made a valuable contribution to wildlife documentation himself. (You can compare the two Audubons’ styles in the images below: the father’s are on the left, the son’s on the right.)

Continue Reading »

Posted in
November 11, 2015

Botticelli, Michelangelo, and the importance of drawing

Sandro Botticelli, Primavera; Allegory of Spring, c. 1478, Galleria degli Uffizi. Image and original data provided by ©SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.;;

Sandro Botticelli, Primavera; Allegory of Spring, c. 1478, Galleria degli Uffizi. Image and original data provided by ©SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.;;

Kenyon Cox (1856-1919) might now be best remembered for his murals in the Library of Congress, as well as in the state capitol buildings of Des Moines, St. Paul, and Madison, but he was also a respected writer and influential teacher. In 1911, he delivered a series of lectures on painting at the Art Institute of Chicago, later published as The Classic Point of View. His accessible writing style and his infectious enthusiasm for the Old Masters still speak to us today. Following is an excerpt from his lecture on the importance of drawing, focusing on the work of Botticelli and Michelangelo.

Drawing is a great expressional art and deals with beauty and significance, not with mere fact. Its great masters are the greatest artists that ever lived, and high attainment in it has always been rarer than high attainment in color. Its tools are the line and so much of light and shade as is necessary to convey the sense of bulk and modelling, anything more being something added for its own beauty and expressiveness, not a part of the sources of the draftsman. Its aims are, first, to develop in the highest degree the abstract beauty and significance possessed by lines in themselves, more or less independently of representation; second, to express with the utmost clearness and force the material significance of objects and, especially, of the human body. According as one or the other of these aims predominates we have one or the other of the two great schools into which draftsmen may be divided. These schools may be typified by the greatest masters of each, the school of Botticelli, or the school of pure line; the school of Michelangelo, or the school of significant form. Between these lie all the law and the prophets. Of course no artist ever belonged entirely and exclusively to either school. It is always a matter of balance and the predominance of interest. Even a Botticelli tried to put some significant form inside his beautiful lines, and even Michelangelo gave thought to the abstract beauty of his lines apart from the significant form they bounded.

Continue Reading »

Posted in
September 22, 2015

Writing a Book in a Digital Age

Jacksonville Female Academy

The students of the Jacksonville Female Academy seated in front of Academy Hall, ca. 1890. The team at Illinois College plans to incorporate this photo into the Jacksonville Female Academy collection on Artstor.

Jenny Barker Devine, Associate Professor of History at Illinois College and the author of On Behalf of the Family Farm, shares her thoughts on how the Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research will impact her upcoming book. This essay first appeared on her blog American Athena.

With American Athena, I want to write a new kind of book – one that exists in a dynamic and living space, responsive to readers and as instructive in design as it is in content. This new kind of book acknowledges the reader as an active participant in producing new knowledge. A kind of crowdsourcing.

In addition to the blog and the book manuscript, I am creating online collections that will allow you, the reader, to interact with the same documents, photographs, and artifacts that I see (and hopefully offer your own interpretations of them). With any luck and lots of hard work, the first images will be available in spring 2016.

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but Illinois College’s digital infrastructure just didn’t support my end goal. Then, Danielle Trierweiler, IC’s Digital Services Librarian, approached me last spring with the idea to apply for the Council of Independent Colleges’ Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research, which, in cooperation with Artstor, provides Consortium members with access to Shared Shelf [now JSTOR Forum], “a cloud-based asset management service.” This allows us to make key records of the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives available to a global audience and forces me, at an early stage, to curate important documents central to my research. As an author, I find this incredibly exciting.

Continue Reading »

September 15, 2015

Enthusiasm for the Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research

ArtstorEarlier this summer we announced that with $2.2 million in support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Artstor and the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) will support the digital documentation of collections held by 42 liberal arts colleges and universities. The Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research, as the project is known, subsidizes the use of Shared Shelf, Artstor’s digital asset management service, to catalog the institutions’ collections and make them publicly accessible via the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

Though the project has barely started, the schools’ local newspapers are already expressing enthusiasm:

Continue Reading »

August 27, 2015

In the news: destruction in Palmyra, Syria

Palmyra; theatre exterior from south. Date of photograph: 1977. Image and original data provided by Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom.

Palmyra; theatre exterior from south. Date of photograph: 1977. Image and original data provided by Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom.

We’ve gathered six examples that illustrate how the images in Artstor can be used to enhance the teaching and learning of architecture and architectural history, along with two case studies, one by a then-doctoral candidate and another by a fine art faculty member.

Recent photographs released by the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, have confirmed the destruction of the ancient Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra, Syria. Until now, the ancient city of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, contained remarkably well-preserved structures built by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago, making it one of the most important archaeological sites in the region.

The news of the Temple’s destruction was preceded by the horrifying news that Khaled Asaad, the 83-year-old chief of the city’s antiquities department, was publicly beheaded. While the seemingly endless loss of lives must be our primary concern, the destruction of the Temple of Baalshamin is shocking for its attempt to erase Syria and the region’s rich, multicultural history.

The New York Times quoted Irina Bokova, the director general of UNESCO, saying “The art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, is a symbol of the complexity and wealth of the Syrian identity and history. Extremists seek to destroy this diversity and richness, and I call on the international community to stand united against this persistent cultural cleansing.”

Continue Reading »

Posted in
August 14, 2015

Reflections after Ramadan

Herbert Cole, People gathered for Ramadan Festival

Northern Ghana; Yendi: People gathered for Ramadan Festival, 1977, Photographed by Herbert Cole.

There’s hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less.
If the sound boxes stuffed full of anything, no music.
If the brain and belly are burning clean with fasting,
every moment a new song comes out of the fire.
– Molana (Rumi), Ghazal No. 1739 from Divan-e Shams-e Tabriz

This past June Muslims around the world fasted for the month of Ramadan. The sight of the crescent moon is the mark for the beginning of the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. Muslims believe the Quran was revealed to the prophet Muhammad during Ramadan. Many friends and colleagues have asked me what Ramadan is about, and I wish to provide them with something deeper than a surface understanding.

Continue Reading »

Posted in