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June 8, 2012

On this day: Frank Lloyd Wright is born

Frank Lloyd Wright | Frederick C. Robie House, Exterior: Front Porch, 1908-1910 | © 2008 Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York | Photographed by: Cassy Juhl | Image and data from the Trustees of Columbia University, Visual Media Center, Department of Art History and Archaeology

The influential American architect Frank Lloyd Wright was born on June 8, 1867. Wright designed more than 1,000 structures and completed 500 works, including the Robie House in Chicago, Hollyhock House in Los Angeles, the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

The Artstor Digital Library features more than 1,000 images of Wright’s work. Of special interest are 50 QuickTime Virtual Reality Panoramas (QTVRs) from QTVR Panoramas of World Architecture (Columbia University). Search for Frank Lloyd Wright QTVR to see 360° spherical views of sites such as the architect’s home and studio, the Mies van der Rohe buildings at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Louis Sullivan’s Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, and Chicago’s popular Millennium Park.

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June 4, 2012

Speaking for women’s suffrage through a quilt

On June 4, 1919, U.S. Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing women the right to vote, and sent it to the states for ratification. To celebrate this momentous anniversary, we are featuring an essay by Stacy C. Hollander, senior curator and director of exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum, on an anonymous 19th-century artist’s “Crazy” quilt (i.e., a quilt with no repeating motifs) and its message about women’s suffrage.

Artist unidentified; initialed “J.F.R.” | Cleveland-Hendricks Crazy Quilt, Cleveland-Hendricks Crazy Quilt | American Folk Art Museum, folkartmuseum.org

The constitutional amendment giving the vote to American women was not ratified until 1920. Therefore, the unidentified maker of this quilt voiced her political sentiments in one of the only socially acceptable means available to her in the late nineteenth century. Using the idiom of the Crazy quilt, she constructed a strong statement of Democratic sympathies in a highly fashionable format.

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June 1, 2012

Announcing the winners of the Artstor Travel Award 2012!

Accessory Set (Hat), ca. 1925 | Makers: Dobbs (opera hat, right), Scott & Company, (top hat, left) | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image and original data from the Brooklyn Museum.

Congratulations to the five winners of this year’s Artstor Travel Awards! They will each receive $1,500 to be used for their teaching and research travel needs over the course of the next year.

Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who submitted an essay. As in previous years, our committee had a very difficult time choosing just five winners, and we are impressed by the wonderfully creative ways that our users integrate the images in the Artstor Digital Library into their teaching and research.

The Artstor Travel Awards 2012 winning essays are:

  • Susan Dodge-Peters Daiss, Memorial Art Gallery of University of Rochester: Art at the Bedside: Exploring the Healing Potential of the Visual Arts
  • Dr. Martha Hollander, Hofstra University: Vermeer’s Robe: The Dutch and Japan, 1600-1800
  • Katherine Murrell, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design: REPRESENT: Women Artists in the Western Tradition
  • Amelia Nelson, Kansas City Art Institute: Silkworms in the Library
  • Margaret Teillon, Wachovia Education Resource Center, Philadelphia Museum of Art: Enhancing Children’s Literature with Artstor Images
The winning essays and accompanying images will be posted in the blog in the near future.

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May 29, 2012

A peek behind Ghiberti’s Florentine Baptistery Doors

Left: Lorenzo Ghiberti | Sacrifice of Isaac, 1401-1402. Right: Filippo Brunelleschi | Sacrifice of Isaac, 1401-1402 | Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise Collection | these images were provided by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore

The competition for the bronze doors of the Florence Baptistery at the turn of the fifteenth century was the city’s most prestigious public commission. Seven artists competed by submitting a bronze plaque on the “Sacrifice of Isaac,” to be judged by a committee of thirty-four native-born citizens of Florence. The competition quickly narrowed down to Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi. After Ghiberti won, he unabashedly claimed, “To me was conceded the palm of victory by all the experts and by all my fellow competitors. Universally, they conceded to me the glory, without exception. Everyone felt I had surpassed the others in that time, without a single exception, after great consultation and examination by learned men.”

Left: Lorenzo Ghiberti | Sacrifice of Isaac, 1401-1402. Right: Filippo Brunelleschi | Sacrifice of Isaac, 1401-1402 | these images were provided by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore
Filippo Brunelleschi | Sacrifice of Isaac; back of panel, 1401-1402 | Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise Collection | This image was provided by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore
Filippo Brunelleschi | Sacrifice of Isaac; back of panel, 1401-1402 | Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise Collection | This image was provided by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore
Lorenzo Ghiberti | Sacrifice of Isaac, 1401-1402 | Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise Collection| This image was provided by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore
Lorenzo Ghiberti | Sacrifice of Isaac; back of panel, 1401-1402 | Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise Collection| This image was provided by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore
Left: Lorenzo Ghiberti | Sacrifice of Isaac, 1401-1402. Right: Filippo Brunelleschi | Sacrifice of Isaac, 1401-1402 | Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise Collection | these images were provided by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore
Left: Lorenzo Ghiberti | Sacrifice of Isaac; back of panel, 1401-1402. Right: Filippo Brunelleschi | Sacrifice of Isaac; back of panel, 1401-1402 | Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise Collection | these images were provided by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore

De gustibus non est disputandum, but was Ghiberti’s entry so clearly superior? As historian Rona Goffen put it in her excellent book Renaissance Rivals, “The committee’s decision was surely influenced by the fact that Ghiberti’s panel weighed 7 kilos [approx. 15½ lbs] less than Brunelleschi’s, savings in bronze that signified considerable savings of money.” The photographs of the backs of the panels clearly show how Ghiberti saved those 7 kilos.

Left: Lorenzo Ghiberti | Sacrifice of Isaac; back of panel, 1401-1402. Right: Filippo Brunelleschi | Sacrifice of Isaac; back of panel, 1401-1402 | Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise Collection | these images were provided by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore

In 2008, ARTstor supported the comprehensive photographic documentation of the Gates of Paradise in their restored state in collaboration with the Museo dell’ Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore and the Opificio delle Pietre Dure. The photographic campaign by photographer Antonio Quattrone documented the newly cleaned bronze panels and frieze elements, as well as Ghiberti and Brunelleschi’s competition panels, now housed in the Museum del Bargello in Florence.

Check out the more than 800 glorious images of the doors, including details and side views, in the Digital Library http://library.artstor.org/library/collection/ghiberti. Feel free to weigh in (ahem) on whether you think Ghiberti’s entry won on esthetic issues alone.

–  Giovanni Garcia-Fenech

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May 26, 2012

On this day: Dorothea Lange is born

Dorothea Lange | The Road West | The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art |

Documentary photographer and photojournalist Dorothea Lange was born on May 26, 1895. Her photographs for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) depicted the human impact of the Great Depression and were tremendously influential, both politically and in the field of documentary photography.

Among her many other achievements, Lange received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1941, photographed the forced evacuation of Japanese Americans to relocation camps in 1942, and co-founded the photography magazine Aperture in 1952. She died on October 11, 1965.

This haunting photograph depicting highway U.S. 54, the west-bound route taken by many families who hoped to find work in California, comes to us from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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May 12, 2012

On this day: Dante Gabriel Rossetti is born

Dante Gabriel Rossetti | Lady Lilith, 1867 | The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Writer and artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti was born May 12, 1828 in London. Disenchanted with the formula-driven painting being produced by the Royal Academy, Rossetti founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. The Brotherhood embraced l’art pour l’art—art for art’s sake—and aimed to reform the art of their day by emulating the art of late medieval and early Renaissance Europe until the time of Raphael.

This gouache of Lady Lilith comes to us from The Metropolitan Museum of Art and carries an inscription in the back that reads “”Beware of her hair, for she excells (sic) / All women in the magic of her locks / And when she twines them round a young man’s neck / she will not ever set him free again” from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s never-completed translation of Goethe’s Faust. Search for Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the Artstor Digital Library to find dozens of more works by the highly-influential artist.

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May 9, 2012

On this day: The birth of Howard Carter, discoverer of Tutankhamun’s tomb

Funerary Mask of Tutankhamun, 1333-1323 BCE | Tomb of Tutankhamun, Valley of the Kings, Thebes| Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt | Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. artres.com scalarchives.com

On May 9, 1874, future archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter was born in London, England. Carter would find fame in 1922 upon discovering the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings. Search the ARTstor Digital Library for Tutankhamun to find images of many of the breath-taking treasures found in the tomb, including this funerary mask from Italian and other European Art (Scala Archives). Don’t miss H. Parkinson’s drawing of the contents of the tomb, from Plans of Ancient and Medieval Buildings and Archaeological Sites (Bryn Mawr College). When you’re done, check out Wikipedia’s eerie entry on the so-called “curse of the pharaohs.”

You may also be interested in: Unwinding mummies

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May 1, 2012

On this day: May Day

William Glackens | May Day, Central Park, circa 1905 | Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco | Image and data from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

May 1st, or May Day, celebrates the beginning of summer. The tradition has been manifested throughout different eras and cultures as the Roman festival of Flora, the Germanic Walpurgisnacht festival, and the Gaelic Beltane. It is also International Workers’ Day, in commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago.

This painting of May Day in Central Park by William Glackens comes to the Artstor Digital Library from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Collection.

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April 25, 2012

Celebrate Mother’s Day with Artstor

Edward S. Curtis | Assiniboin Mother And Child, 1896-1926 | George Eastman House, eastmanhouse.org

Happy Mother’s Day! The holiday is celebrated in May in dozens of countries around the world. In honor of mothers everywhere, we have assembled our favorite mother and child images from the Digital Library spanning a wide variety of cultures and eras.

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April 25, 2012

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

Harry Clifford Fassett | Woman standing in front of thatched hut belonging to Johnnie Toga, a chief, Neifau village, Vavau Island, Tonga Islands, 1899-1900 | Image and data from National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

May is the month to celebrate the heritage of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The cultures, history, religion, architecture, and art of the continent of Asia are well represented in the Artstor Digital Library, and you can find a full guide in our Artstor Is… Asian Studies post; resources for Asian-Pacific content are also plentiful, but scattered throughout many collections and require a little more diligence.

Vanuatu; Malakula Island, Mbotgote | Helmet Mask, 19th-20th century | Image and data from: The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

A quick way to find content in the Digital Library from a specific country is by going to the Browse area in the lower left corner of the search page and clicking Geography. Considering that Asia-Pacific encompasses the Pacific islands of Melanesia (Fiji, New Caledonia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu), Micronesia (Guam, Kiribati, Marianas, Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Wake Island), and Polynesia (American Samoa and Samoa, Cook Islands, Easter Island, French Polynesia, Hawaiian Islands, Midway Island, New Zealand, Rotumas, Tonga, and Tuvalu), this might be a little time consuming, so here are some hints:

The main repositories of Asian-Pacific images in Artstor include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which features art and artifacts from many of the regions listed above, the Peabody Museum of Natural History (Yale University), which has archaeological and ethnographic objects, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (Harvard University), which has anthropological objects, and Magnum Photos, which includes contemporary photographs of New Guinea by Burt Glinn and Philip Jones Griffiths, of the Marshall Islands by Chris Steele-Perkins, Samoa by Alex Webb, the Cook Islands by Trent Parke, and Easter Island by Thomas Hoepker.

Solomon Islands | Kundu players at Mapiri for dukduk dance | Yale University: Peabody Museum of Natural History

Also of note is Cook’s Voyages to the South Seas (Natural History Museum, London), which includes 1,600 images of botanical and zoological illustrations associated with Captain James Cook’s expeditions to the South Pacific in the 18th century, and Thomas K. Seligman: Photographs of Liberia, New Guinea, Melanesia and the Tuareg people which, as its title states, includes field photography of New Guinea and Melanesia. Also fruitful, The Native American Art and Culture (National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution) includes a dozen fascinating photographs of Fiji in 1900 by Charles Haskins Townsend, and the Fowler Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art Collection, the Saint Louis Art Museum, and the Smith College Museum of Artall include art and artifacts from different cultures in Asia Pacific.

Johann Georg Adam Forster | Rufous Night Heron, 1774 | Image and original data provided by Natural History Museum, London

And don’t miss Re-historicizing Contemporary Pacific Island Art by Marion Cadora, a graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Enjoy the celebrations and don’t forget to visit the Library of Congress’ official Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month site!

Polynesian | Easter Island (Rapa Nui); view of unfinished moai statues on slopes of Rano Raraku volcano | 10th-12th cent. | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. artres.com / artres.com

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