Edgar Degas is primarily known for his painting, having exhibited only one sculpture during his lifetime: The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer, shown in the sixth Impressionist exhibition in Paris in 1881. It was not until after his death in 1917 that more than 150 pieces of sculpture of dancers, horses, and nudes, mostly made of wax, clay, and plastiline (a type of modeling clay), were discovered in his studio (read the intriguing story of the posthumous castings on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website).
Arnold Genthe… cat photographer?
“It is told that at the age of four, when I was taken by the nurse to look at my newly arrived brother Hugo, I seriously remarked, ‘I’d like a little kitten better.’ I am fond of dogs, but cats have always meant more to me, and they have been the wise and sympathetic companions of many a solitary hour.”
–Arnold Genthe, As I Remember (1936)
Arnold Genthe is best remembered for his photos of San Francisco’s Chinatown, the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, and his portraits of notables, from celebrities to politicians. Maybe that list should also include cats.
A self-taught photographer, Genthe opened a portrait studio in San Francisco in the late 1890s. His clientele grew to include personages like silent actress Nance O’Neil, theater legend Sarah Bernhardt, poet Nora May French, and author Jack London. In 1911 Genthe moved to New York City, where he concentrated primarily on portraiture, photographing such towering figures as Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and John D. Rockefeller. And all the while, he was photographing cats. Among the more than 1,000 images of Genthe’s photographs in the Library of Congress Collection in the Artstor Digital Library, there are 82 that include cats, usually accompanying women, but occasionally alone. More than half of these feature his beloved cat Buzzer (or perhaps that should be “Buzzers,” as he used that name for four cats).
Our slide show is made up of some highlights featuring Buzzer; search the Artstor Digital Library for Genthe and cat to see all of the photographer’s feline friends.
The winners of the Artstor Travel Award 2012
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. The winning essays are:
- Susan Dodge-Peters Daiss, Memorial Art Gallery of University of Rochester: Art at the Bedside: Research on 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
Teaching with Artstor: Enhancing Children’s Literature with Artstor Images
Wachovia Education Resource Center, Philadelphia Museum of Art
From a very early age children love to read, be read to, and look at pictures in books. Recognizing the joy children bring to picture books, I have developed teaching materials using selected children’s literature combined with Artstor images. My goal is to enhance literacy instruction and provide an interdisciplinary method of teaching social studies, language arts, and art appreciation. For the youngest students, I have enhanced books such as Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown; and for elementary students have developed images for Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. Included in each enhanced book is an OIV presentation and image palette with accompanying quotes from the text, and Web links to additional creative lessons. Teachers and homeschool educators have borrowed these materials for their own students.
Silkworms in the Library
Cataloging and Digital Services Librarian
Kansas City Art Institute
In the spring semester the library collaborated with the Fibers Department by hosting 500 growing silkworms in one of the display cases at the library entrance. The worms were grown as part of the course “Fiber History and Properties.” The silkworms’ development was tracked by students visiting the library and through a live feed broadcast on the library’s ustream channel. Playing host to these silkworms was a fun opportunity for the library to connect with students and to highlight some of the plethora of library resources available to fibers students. Some of these representative resources were compiled into a LibGuide. The guide incorporated the live feed of the growing silkworms and linked to fibers resources across the collection including an image group compiled from the Artstor Digital Library.
The Artstor image group complemented our physical collection and also provided unique imagery documenting the history of the silkworm industry and examples of silk used across cultures and throughout history. These images range from an 8th-century Caftan from the Caucasus Mountains to Grace Kelly’s silk tulle wedding gown. Each image provides unique high-quality image resolution especially usefully for fiber students. In the Caftan image, for example, students are able to zoom into the image to see repairs, the texture of the plain weave linen, and the faded silk decorative border. For a tactile fiber student, these detailed views provide insight into the construction, texture and materials—details that couldn’t be extrapolated from other images.
This sample image group can be arranged chronologically, allowing users to compare the weaves of different silk textiles and to track the evolution of this fabric through time. Viewed together, this image group illustrates the important cultural, symbolic, and artistic role this luxurious fabric has held throughout its history, included in everything from tapestries to a 16th-century Emperor’s court robe to silk slippers from the 18th century. The images in this group perfectly dovetailed into the goal of the fibers LibGuide to build a bridge from the excitement and curiosity about the silkworms on display to the library’s rich collection of fiber resources.
REPRESENT: Women Artists in the Western Tradition
Instructor of Art History
Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design
In my class on women artists from the medieval period onward, one of the first activities students were asked to do was to work in small groups and write a list of ten female painters or sculptors active before 1950, but without looking for information online. Many minutes elapsed, and the group with the longest list only had eight names. It was a sobering realization that despite the hundreds of female practitioners of art, relatively few are commonly known. This oversight is apparent on many websites hosting libraries of images, but Artstor is a notable and praiseworthy exception.
The tools available on Artstor make researching and organizing presentations a streamlined delight, but the breadth and depth of its visual resources make it an outstanding library. The nearly 400 images from artist Judy Chicago are an exceptional example of this. Chicago’s landmark work, The Dinner Party, is widely represented in art history survey textbooks, and was a touchstone for our class. The studio photographs and other documentary images associated with the piece, and detailed images of various place settings, help vividly illustrate the scope of this collaborative and historic work.
Context of a smaller, older work was explored through the 12th-century image of Hildegard von Bingen, experiencing a vision like a fiery flame. This is another picture often shown in survey textbooks, but the Artstor collection includes the facsimile page from her Liber Scivias, showing the illustration as accompanying its text, in addition to many other richly illustrated folios.
Artists of significant accomplishment such as Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, Artemisia Gentileschi, and many others, are represented with plentiful images. The extensive material offers valuable opportunities for examining recurring subjects of interest, such as the Jewish heroine Judith. Artists’ self-portraits are another significant topic for discussion. Angelica Kauffman, a founding member of London’s Royal Academy of Art, created an eloquent self-portrait where she chooses between her loves of art and music, an image that still makes a powerful statement today about professional commitment.
Resources concerning the life and career of Rosa Bonheur include numerous paintings, studies, sketches, and photographs. Of particular note in the Artstor collection is a permit for which she regularly applied to French authorities to wear men’s clothing in public, in order to gain easier access to male-dominated settings not readily open to women.
The quantity of images for many artists is impressive, but also the details and installation views of works. The story quilts of Faith Ringgold come alive with close-ups of image and text, and the monumental scale of Louise Bourgeois’ spiders are all the more impressive for the exhibition images.
While putting together my course, Artstor has been an invaluable partner, providing numerous images and source documents, and helping my students gain an expansive sense of the contributions of women artists in the present and past centuries. The field of art history, and the experience in the classroom, is undeniable richer for this resource.
Vermeer’s Robe: The Dutch and Japan, 1600-1800
Dr. Martha Hollander
My research and teaching in art history has always focused on the ways in which a single work of art can open up an entire world of knowledge, making vivid and real the otherwise rather bland term “historical context.” For the past few years I have been working on a study of men’s fashions in the seventeenth century and their representations in Dutch art. This has involved making a number of image groups in Artstor where I connect visual art, textiles, and clothing accessories.
One project that has proved particularly rich culminated in a recently published article called “Vermeer’s Robe: Costume, Commerce and Fantasy in the Early Modern Netherlands.” It concerns the japonsche rok, the Japanese silk robe portrayed most famously in Vermeer’s The Astronomer and The Geographer.
These rare spoils of Asian trade were first presented annually by Japanese shoguns to officials of the Dutch east India Company (VOC) and thereafter were made available as Western copies. By the end of the seventeenth century, similar robes made of chintz or batik, also known as banyans, were imported from India and went through the same transformation to domestic product. All of these long, loose garments possessed a novelty and cachet unmatched by more abundant imports such as spices, lacquer, porcelain, and precious metals. They appear in portraits of eminent and wealthy men, as well as in fictionalized genre images of scholars and scientists. Collectively, these garments created an idealized costume of social and intellectual prestige. Behind it are the interactions among the forces of class, fashion, fantasy, exoticism, and, above all, the extraordinary taste-making power of the VOC.
At the same time, Irt am currently teaching two courses – a survey course in baroque and rococo art, and another on east-west relations as expressed in art and artifacts. Artstor image groups create an ideal means of incorporating my research into both classrooms.
Students can, for example, start with a portrait or genre scene, focus on a particular piece of clothing or accessory, then create a study group. Conversely, they can choose types of artifact, e.g., a fan, a shoe, a dress, a chair, a ship, a navigational instrument, or a map, and build a series of artworks around them to show how they were used. Artstor image groups can enhance students’ experience of art history by giving them the tools to create their own interdisciplinary and cross-cultural bodies of knowledge.
Some search topics:
- Portraits of important men and women: aspirational clothing
- Genre images of scholars and scientists: idealized/stereotyping clothing
- Asian representations of Dutch and English traders
- Sericulture in Japan
- Indian textiles, showing both native patterns and later patterns “westernized” for export back to Europe
- European-made textiles and clothing based on Asian designs
- Ships, maps, and instruments: the technology behind the textile trade
Art at the bedside: Research on the healing potential of the visual arts
Susan Dodge-Peters Daiss
McPherson Director of Education
Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester
The idea of bringing works of art to the bedside of patients in the hospital emerged from two interwoven aspects of my professional life: for over 25 years, I have worked as a museum educator at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester. I have also been trained and have served as a hospital and hospice chaplain. During my experiences as a chaplain, I began to wonder: What if the energy encountering artwork in a museum could be transported to the bedside? What if the visual arts had the potential to bring more than decoration to medical settings? What if they could bring comfort—deep comfort, and maybe even more?
Ingres vs Delacroix: An artistic rivalry spills over at a party
The rivalry between Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Eugene Delacroix, the two titans of 19th century French painting, is often seen as embodying the conflict between the era’s tradition-based neoclassicism and non-conformist Romanticism. Writing for the journal Art History, Andrew Carrington Shelton quotes an article from 1832 by an anonymous critic as the first time the dispute was presented:
It’s the battle between antique and modern genius. M. Ingres belongs in many respects to the heroic age of the Greeks; he is perhaps more of a sculptor than a painter; he occupies himself exclusively with line and form, purposefully neglecting animation and colour […] M. Delacroix, in contrast, willfully sacrifices the rigours of drawing to the demands of the drama he depicts; his manner, less chaste and reserved, more ardent and animated, emphasizes the brilliance of colour over the purity of line.
The antagonism seems to have extended into the personal. In 1883, the New York Times featured a surprisingly gossipy account of a party in which the two stars had a confrontation. The famously testy Ingres doesn’t come across too well in the exchange:
After dinner, holding in his hand a cupful of coffee, he brusquely went up to Eugene Delacroix, who was standing by the fire, and said to him: “Drawing, sir, drawing is honesty! Drawing, sir, drawing is honor!” In his agitation the cup of coffee capsized and poured over his shirt and waistcoat. He seized his hat in a fury… “This is too much! I shall go; I will not let myself be insulted any longer.”
After Ingres left, Delacroix showed admirable restraint, speaking of the qualities that made lngres an eminent painter, adding: “Talent is apt to be exclusive: narrowness is often the condition of its existence.”
For this slide show, we searched the Artstor Digital Library for some images that highlighted the formal differences between the two artists. Among the hundreds of choices, we chose these examples from the Réunion des Musées Nationaux, the Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives, and the Scala Archives. From viewing the artworks alone, could you have predicted which of these two artists would be more likely to get so agitated at a party that he would spill coffee on himself?
On this day: Frank Lloyd Wright is born
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.