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Blog Category: Highlights

March 30, 2020

Museums, remotely

Honoré Daumier. L'Exposition de 1859: Dire que je vais être...Exposé... 1859.

Honoré Daumier. L’Exposition de 1859: Dire que je vais être…Exposé…1859. Lithograph. Image and data provided by The Phillips Collection.

Missing your favorite museums? Let us reveal them to you remotely. Artstor offers comprehensive coverage of the collections of well over 100 international museums and galleries through various accesses—ranging from fully public, from our community collaborators, as well as Open Artstor collections with works entirely in the public domain—to selections in the Artstor Digital Library that are available to subscribing institutions and their members.

 

 

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January 8, 2020

Artstor’s 2019 year in review

The end of the decade marks the beginning of our open access era

In 2019 we kicked off our Open Artstor initiative and began aggregating cross-disciplinary museum, library, and archive collections and making them available to all via Creative Commons licenses. We capped the year with the publication of three expansive and diverse collections.

Cell in laser beam, flow cytometry, illustration.
Cell in laser beam, flow cytometry, illustration. Wellcome Collection. Credit: Neil Dufton. CC BY 4.0.
Klein bottle
Science Museum Group. Klein bottle, 1995. 1996-558. Science Museum Group Collection Online. Accessed January 3, 2020. https://collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/objects/co415806. CC BY 4.0.
Personal Computer, model Apple I.
Science Museum Group. Personal Computer, model Apple I. 1999-915. Science Museum Group Collection Online. Accessed January 3, 2020. https://collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/objects/co503422. CC BY 4.0.
Pinckney Marcius-Simons. Illustrations to A Midsummer Night's Dream. 1908. Image and data provided by the Folger Shakespeare Library. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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December 4, 2019

The drama of the operating theater:
Thomas Eakins’ medical paintings and clinical fact

During the nineteenth century the painting genre of the operating theater emerged — an arresting hybrid of fine art and the art of medicine. Highly specialized and hotly debated, its celebrated champion was the American artist Thomas Eakins, both appreciated and condemned for the realism which he brought most notably to his medical paintings. The Gross Clinic, 1875, and The Agnew Clinic, 1889, are his most monumental canvases among about 25 that feature medical practitioners. With an infusion of related imagery from two recently published collections Open Artstor: Wellcome Collection and Open Artstor: Science Museum Group, we may now probe these powerful and disquieting works with clinical precision.

Thomas Eakins. The Gross Clinic. 1875

Thomas Eakins. The Gross Clinic. 1875. Image and data provided by University of Georgia Libraries.

The Gross Clinic depicts Dr. Samuel D. Gross, characterized as the “emperor of American surgery,” in his element at center stage directing his assistants who perform an operation on a patient’s thigh while he also addresses his students. A woman recoils at left, the only discordant note to his authority. The setting is Philadelphia’s Jefferson Medical College, where the artist himself began to study medicine before choosing a future in art. On a canvas measuring about 8 x 6 feet, the figures approach life size.

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December 3, 2019

The fine art of the feast

Seize the season! Once again we have crossed the Thanksgiving threshold into full-blown festivities and the crescendo to the new year. In celebration of the prompt to eat, drink, and be merry, we would like to present some inspiring visions.

Antonio Rasio. Autumn. 1685-1695

Antonio Rasio. Autumn. 1685-1695. Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo. Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Let’s begin with the harvest itself, the basis of all feasts and the bountiful personification of Autumn by the Brescian Antonio Rasio, 1685-1695. In one of four allegorical paintings of the season, the whimsical poster boy for produce is nearly life size and he is composed of more than 20 edibles from mushrooms to pomegranates.

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November 5, 2019

New in Artstor — Nearly 300 self-portraits by Joseph Stapleton

A unique offering from a second generation Abstract Expressionist

Joseph F. Stapleton. Look look. 1978

Joseph F. Stapleton. Look look. 1978. China marker, vellum. RISD Museum. Image and data provided by Robert Solomon Art.

Art historian Robert Solomon has just contributed the Joseph Stapleton: Self-Portraits collection to the Artstor Digital Library. Below, he provides a perspective on the artist and his significant output of self-portrait drawings.

Joseph Stapleton (1921-1994) was one of an estimated 400 artists who poured into New York City’s Tenth Street area following the close of World War II. According to historian Irving Sandler, they were attracted to this specific location by the presence of, among others, Willem de Kooning’s studio. Sandler referred to this group of artists born between 1920 and 1930 as Abstract Expressionism’s second generation. Over the next twenty years this second generation would be impacted by a variety of economic and social influences. These conditions would produce only a handful of names we recognize today.

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August 9, 2019

Pioneers of the deep: early Americans fathom the ocean

James M. Sommerville, Christian Schussele. Ocean Life. c. 1859. Image and data provided by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Public domain.

James M. Sommerville, Christian Schussele. Ocean Life. c. 1859. Image and data provided by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Public domain.

During the mid-nineteenth century, the Atlantic presented a new, rich and formidable frontier to American innovators who were laying the cables for the first transcontinental telegraph, to scientists capturing their first glimpses of aquatic life forms, and to artists exploring the hitherto unseen landscapes of the deep.

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August 5, 2019

Every piece tells a story: decorative arts in the everyday lives of early Americans

Decorative arts, which bridge the realms of fine art and function, often seem to highlight aristocratic tastes. These selections from The Clark’s collection, while valued for their craftsmanship and design, offer insights into the everyday lives of early Americans. These recent additions to the Artstor Digital Library also highlight a new interface in which multiple images of an object are grouped together, allowing users to access alternate views more easily.

Paul Revere, Jr. Sugar bowl and cover. c. 1795. Image and original data provided by Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Paul Revere, Jr. Sugar bowl and cover. c. 1795. Image and original data provided by Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Paul Revere, Jr. Teapot. c. 1785. Image and original data provided by Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Paul Revere, Jr. Teapot. c. 1785. Image and original data provided by Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Paul Revere Jr. teapot (detail showing embossed mark). c. 1785. Image and original data provided by Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Paul Revere, Jr. teapot (detail showing embossed mark). c. 1785. Image and original data provided by Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

The first selections were crafted by a familiar name from the Colonial period, Paul Revere. Although he is best known for his historic ride, he prided himself as a master artisan. Views of this Neoclassical sugar bowl illustrate his advanced skills and sense of design. The tea kettle, perhaps an early example of Revere Ware (see the embossed mark in detail), was a more common piece in colonial kitchens. It reminds us of tea’s importance to the colonists – which was also borne out by the infamous protest of the British tea tax, the Boston Tea Party. Revere was in sympathy with this cause; he captured some of the passions that led up to the rebellion in a famous engraving of the Boston Massacre. (1)

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July 25, 2019

Three ornithology collections that are free as the birds

The history of ornithology (the scientific study of birds) has involved observations captured in imagery going as far back as prehistoric stone-age drawings.[1] As ornithology developed as a natural science it faced the aesthetic challenge of convincingly capturing depictions of different bird species,[2] leading to beautifully documented and historically fascinating works of illustration.

Several Artstor public collections — available freely to anyone — showcase ornithological illustration starting as early as the 16th century and on through to the 19th century. Here are three of our favorites:

Cornell’s Laboratory of Ornithology Gallery of Bird and Wildlife Art has more than 1,000 works of art from the last two centuries by bird artists such as Alexander Wilson, John James Audubon, and Louis Agassiz Fuertes.

Alexander Pope, Jr. The Pinnated Grouse. 1878.
Alexander Pope, Jr. The Pinnated Grouse. 1878. Cornell University Lab of Ornithology Art Collection.
Louis Agassiz Fuertes. Imperial Eagle. Ca. 1895.
Louis Agassiz Fuertes. Imperial Eagle. Ca. 1895. Cornell University Lab of Ornithology Art Collection

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July 17, 2019

Dostoevsky and the challenge of Hans Holbein’s Dead Christ

Vasily Perov. Portrait of Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1872.

Vasily Perov. Portrait of Fyodor Dostoevsky. 1872. Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y., artres.com, scalarchives.com

In August 1867, shortly after Fyodor Dostoevsky married his stenographer Anna Snitkina, the couple headed to Geneva. As much as a honeymoon, they were also fleeing family tensions and hounding by Fyodor’s many creditors. On the way, the newlyweds stopped in Basel for a day and visited its museum. It was there that the famed writer of Crime and Punishment had an unsettling encounter with an artwork that would soon appear in one of his most esteemed novels.

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July 9, 2019

Books of hours: illuminating the Trinity College Watkinson Library public collection

Attributed to Studio of unknown French (illuminator), Possibly Style of unknown Flemish (illuminator). c.1470 (creation date). Book of Hours (Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis in Usum Ecclesiae Romanae cum Calendario), Folio 86v: Hours of the Virgin: Compline: Entombment, overall, left, with Folio 87r at right. Illumination, Leaf (component), Manuscript. Place: Trinity College, Watkinson Library (Hartford, Connecticut, USA).

Attributed to Studio of unknown French (illuminator), Possibly Style of unknown Flemish (illuminator). c.1470 (creation date). Book of Hours (Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis in Usum Ecclesiae Romanae cum Calendario), Folio 86v: Hours of the Virgin: Compline: Entombment, overall, left, with Folio 87r at right. Illumination, Leaf (component), Manuscript. Place: Trinity College, Watkinson Library (Hartford, Connecticut, USA).

Books of hours are devotional texts that contain a personalized selection of prayers, hymns, psalms, and New Testament excerpts chosen specifically for their owner. Popular in the Middle Ages, the most expensive of these books could be highly decorated, but the more affordable versions usually only showed minimal decoration, usually of the first letter of a page. They had, in fact, become so popular by the 16th century that they were often owned by people from all walks of society; servants even had their own copies—there is a court case from 1500 where a pauper woman was accused of stealing a servant’s book of hours. 

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