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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,

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. /

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April 21, 2012

On this day: The founding of Rome

She-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus, 16th century | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. /

Twin brothers Romulus and Remus founded Rome on April 21, 753 B.C. on the site where they were suckled by a she-wolf as orphaned infants.

Roman | Ara Casali | Museo Pio-Clementino | Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. / | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

According to the legend, the twins were the sons of Rhea Silvia and the war god Mars. Fearing that they would claim his throne, Rhea’s uncle Amulius ordered them drowned in the River Tiber. Thanks to help from the river deity Tiberinus, the twins were safely washed ashore at the foot of the Palatine hill, where they were suckled by a she-wolf. They were rescued by a shepherd, who raised them as his own. Once grown, the twins killed Amulus and went on to found a town on the site where they had been saved. After a disagreement on the exact location of the site, Romulus killed by his brother and became ruler of the settlement, which he named “Rome” after himself.

The image of the 16th century sculpture of the she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus comes to us from Art, Archaeology and Architecture (Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives), the Casali Altarpiece from the 2nd century C.E. comes from Italian and other European Art (Scala Archives), and Nicholas Mignard’s 17th century painting comes from the Dallas Museum of Art Collection. Search for Remus and Romulus to find many more related images, including the series of prints by Giambattista Fontana from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Collection.

Nicholas Mignard | The Shepherd Faustulus Bringing Romulus and Remus to His Wife, 1654 | Dallas Museum of Art | Image and data from the Dallas Museum of Art

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April 13, 2012

On this day: Friday the 13th

Hishida Shunso | Black Cat, 1910 | Eisei Bunko Foundation, Tokyo, Japan | Huntington Archive of Asian Art

Everyone knows that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day, right? According to Wikipedia, there is no record of this superstition existing before the late 19th century, and different cultures ascribe the unfortunate day to Tuesday the 13th or Friday the 17th. Meanwhile, many superstitions popular in the Middle Ages did not make it to our era. Visit the Illustrated Bartsch collection of Old Master European prints in the Digital Library and search within it for superstition to find some surprising beliefs, such as “Digging for Coal Upon Seeing a Swallow Guarantees Freedom from Fever and Headaches for a Year,” and “Man Encountering a Goose, a Good Omen for the Day.”

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April 12, 2012

On this day: The American Civil War begins

J.H. Bufford's Lith | Yankee volunteers marching into dixie--Yankee Doodle keep it up, Yankee Doodle dandy, ca. 1862 | Image and original data from: Virga, Vincent, and Curators of the Library of Congress, with commentary by Alan Brinkley (2004). Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States.

On April 12, 1861, Confederate shore batteries opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina; in response, President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern insurrection, marking the beginning of the American Civil War. The conflict had been building up for some time before the attack: Following Lincoln’s election the previous year, several Southern states had declared their secession and formed the Confederate States of America due to Lincoln’s anti-slavery stance. The ensuing war would last four years and result in more than a million deaths before the Union triumphed.

The ARTstor Digital Library has many collections that cover the Civil War. A particularly rich resource is Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States (Library of Congress), which provides a pictorial overview of American history. The collection includes Abraham Lincoln’s handwritten Emancipation Proclamation and hundreds of other Civil War-related images, including prints, maps, letters, photographs, and cartoons.

There are also two notable collections from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design that focus on the topic exclusively:  Century Magazine Illustrations of the American Civil War, featuring images depicting battle scenes and camp life, as well as details of weapons and uniforms; and Tenniel Civil War Cartoon Collection, John Tenniel’s full-page cartoons of the American Civil War in the British humor magazine Punch.

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April 4, 2012

Celebrate National Poetry Month!

Luca Signorelli | Dante, 1499-1504 | San Brizio Chapel, Duomo di Orvieto | Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. / | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

From those fabulous poems by Roman bad-boy Catullus (84-54 BC) to today’s contemporary poet rock-stars like Billy Collins, poetry might not enjoy the same mass popularity as it did in ancient times, but when you dive in, poetry is its own universe of aural, oral, and cerebral pleasures. Poetry and art are intertwined—two art forms in constant dialogue, creating and recreating each other. Countless poets have also written on art, from William Butler Yeats to Gertrude Stein to Ted Hughes, and their work has shaped the development of painting, sculpture, performance, dance, theater, literature, music, and film (see Poets on Painters, ed. J.D. McClatchy, 1998)

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April 2, 2012

April is Jazz Appreciation Month!

Jean Dubuffet. Grand Jazz Band (New Orleans), 1944. Image and original data provided by the The Museum of Modern Art. © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Happy Jazz Appreciation Month! While the attributes of jazz are difficult to describe without getting technical, the key element that ties together its many sub-genres, from swing to bebop to avant-garde, is improvisation—or as Louis Armstrong put it, “Jazz is music that’s never played the same way once.”

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March 23, 2012

Artstor visits The Hunger Games

Two Gladiators in Combat, Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives

Two Gladiators in Combat, 1st or 2nd century CE. British Museum, London. Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

The Artstor water cooler is abuzz with excitement about the premiere of The Hunger Games this weekend. The books by Suzanne Collins have made their way around the offices over the past couple of years, and the movie was a good excuse to do some “research” in Artstor for somewhat-relevant imagery.

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March 19, 2012

On this day: Josef Albers is born

Josef Albers | Homage to the Square, 1968 | © 2008 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany, CT/Artists Rights Society, NY. Photograph by Tim Nighswander.

Pioneering modern artist Josef Albers was born on March 19, 1888. Albers was an influential teacher, writer, painter, and color theorist best known for the Homages to the Square series and the groundbreaking book The Interaction of Color.

In partnership with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, the ARTstor Digital Library features 2,100 images of works by Josef and his wife Anni. The collection includes more than 300 paintings and studies, including many examples of his famous Homage to the Square series, as well nearly 900 drawings, prints, and other works on paper stemming back to 1914. There are also 350 examples of drawings, prints, and textiles by Anni Albers. In addition, the Digital Library features 550 personal photographs and photo collages relating to both artists, and their families and friends, which include such well-known 20th-century artists as Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Diego Rivera. Of note are the travel photographs taken during the couple’s journeys to Mexico and Latin America between 1934 and 1967, which deeply influenced their respective work and inspired them to collect Pre-Columbian art and textiles.

View the collection:

Josef Albers | Mai ’36 Lake Lure / Jan ’36 Heimweg von Mexico (Josef Albers), 1936 | © 2008 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany, CT/Artists Rights Society, NY. Photograph by Tim Nighswander.

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March 15, 2012

On this day: The Ides of March

Master of the Apollini Sacrum | The Assassination of Julius Caesar, 1475-1500 | Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas | Image and original data provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Roman | Bust of Julius Caesar, mid 1st century BCE | Image and original data provided by Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz

Julius Caesar, “dictator in perpetuity” of the Roman Empire, was murdered by his own senators on the Ides of March (March 15), 44 BC. Caesar had raised the ire of his already-resentful Republican senators after he appointed loyal members of his army to rule the Empire while he was away from Rome to fight in a war. Cassius Longinus started the plot against the dictator and was joined by his brother-in-law Marcus Brutus, Caesar’s protégé. As depicted in this painting from the 15th century, Caesar was stabbed to death by the entire group of senators after being lured to a senate meeting. To their surprise, they did not find support from the populace, and the houses of Brutus and Cassius were attacked. Both of them committed suicide two years later after their forces were defeated by Caesar’s adopted son Octavian. The painting of Caesar’s murder comes to us from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation collection, and the bust of Caesar from the Classical Sculptures (Berlin State Museums).

Search for Julius Caesar for more images of the emperor, and for Brutus to find images of the murderer, as well as images from a manuscript of Cicero’s “Letters to Brutus, Quintus, Octavian, and Atticus” from the Manuscripts and Early Printed Books (Bodleian Library, University of Oxford).

Archaeologists believe they have found the exact place where Julius Caesar was stabbed; search for Largo di Torre Argentina to see photographs of the site from the European Architecture and Sculpture (Sara N. James) collection.

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