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June 18, 2012

REPRESENT: Women Artists in the Western Tradition

Judy Chicago | The Dinner Party, 1974-1979 | © Judy Chicago Photo © Donald Woodman | © 2008 Judy Chicago / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Katherine Murrell
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.

Judy Chicago. The Dinner Party, 1974-1979. © Judy Chicago Photo © Donald Woodman. © 2008 Judy Chicago / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Mary Stevenson Cassatt | Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge, 1879 | Philadelphia Museum of Art| Image and data from the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Judith Leyster | Merry Company, 1630 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. artres.com
Designed by: Kitagawa Utamaro | Midnight: Mother and Sleepy Child, 1790 | The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Artemisia Gentileschi | Judith and Her Maidservant, c. 1612 | Galleria Palatina | Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. | artres.com , scalarchives.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

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.

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June 18, 2012

Vermeer’s Robe: The Dutch and Japan, 1600-1800

Jan Vermeer | The Astronomer, 1668 | The Astronomer | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y | artres.com artres.com

Dr. Martha Hollander
Professor
Hofstra University

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.

Jan Vermeer | The Astronomer, 1668 | The Astronomer | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y | artres.com artres.com
Ludolf Backhuysen I Ships of the Dutch East India Company (Escadre Neerlandaise de la Compagnie des Indes), 1675 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y.
Islamic | Robe; court, 17th century | The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Katsushika Hokusai | Woman Spinning Silk, 18th century |The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Japan | Formal Robe for Daimyo's Wife with Design of Wisteria and Peonies, 18th century | The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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

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June 18, 2012

Art at the bedside: Research on the healing potential of the visual arts

John Frederick Kensett | Lake George, 1869 | The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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?

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June 17, 2012

Ingres vs Delacroix: An artistic rivalry spills over at a party

Left: Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres | Self Portrait, 1858 | Galleria degli Uffizi Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. artres.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y. Right: Eugène Delacroix | Self-Portrait, c. 1837 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. artres.com

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.”

Left: Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres | Self Portrait, 1858 | Galleria degli Uffizi Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. artres.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y. Right: Eugène Delacroix | Self-Portrait, c. 1837 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. artres.com
Eugène Delacroix | Saint George Fighting the Dragon (Perseus Delivering Andromeda; Saint Georges Combattant le Dragon; Persee Delivrant Andromede), 1847 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. artres.com
Eugène Delacroix | Saint George Fighting the Dragon (Perseus Delivering Andromeda; Saint Georges Combattant le Dragon; Persee Delivrant Andromede), 1847 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. artres.com
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres | Roger and Angelica, 1819 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. artres.com
Eugène Delacroix | Odalisque, c. 1848-1849 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y. artres.com
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres | The Grand Odalisque, 1814 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. artres.com

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?

–  Giovanni Garcia-Fenech

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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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