In a grainy 1840 photograph, a partially-covered corpse is propped against a wall, its decay evident in the darkening skin of the face and hands. The body is that of Hippolyte Bayard, an early inventor of photographic processes and supposed drowning victim, and written on the image verso is a strange note:
An update from our friends at The New Hampshire Institute of Art (NHIA)
Last summer, The New Hampshire Institute of Art’s John Teti Rare Photography Book and Print Collection received a second major gift from collector and philanthropist John Teti. This gift contained original photographic prints of many leading 20th-century photographers, including Harry Callahan, Paul Caponigro, Imogen Cunningham, Lee Friedlander, Andre Kertesz, Man Ray, Minor White, and more. These works are now being added via JSTOR Forum to the NHIA Photograph Collection, which is available as a Public Collection on Artstor. The collection has now grown to nearly 600 images.
The Museum of the City of New York has contributed approximately 17,300 additional images from its permanent collection to the Artstor Digital Library, bringing their total to more than 71,000.*
The New-York Historical Society (New-York Historical) is contributing more than 21,000 images from its museum and library collections to the Artstor Digital Library. The selection encompasses many aspects of the combined resources of the New-York Historical, including highlights across the diverse collecting areas—American paintings, sculpture, prints and drawings, decorative arts and artifacts, and historical photographs.
The Princeton University Art Museum has contributed approximately 5,850 images by the seminal American modernist photographer Minor White to the Artstor Digital Library. This contribution represents a substantial selection from the Minor White Archive which first went to Princeton as a gift of the artist in 1976.
Did you know that nearly 20% of Artstor’s more than 2 million images are photographs? This summer we released a new collection of over 36,000 images from The Center for Creative Photography and we added 47,000 new images to existing collections from Magnum Photos, Panos Pictures, and Condé Nast, bringing our photography holdings to more than 350,000. These additions join major collections such as George Eastman House (the world’s oldest photography museum), Eyes of the Nation: a Visual History of the United States (Library of Congress), the Museum of the City of New York, and fine art photography from the Larry Qualls collection of contemporary art, among others. Photography collections in Artstor span many types, including photojournalism, art photography, social documentary works, carte de visites, stereographs, fashion photography, and even vernacular photography. In aggregate, these diverse collections can provide visual histories of people, events, cultures, and countries between the advent of photography in 1839 and the present day.
The more than 350,000 photographs in the Artstor Digital Library are not only there for the study of art—they also tell stories of our past. One of the best examples is that of Robert Capa’s breathtaking photographs of Omaha Beach on D-day in German-occupied France on June 6, 1944.
That day Western Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy in France and began the effort to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany. The invasion was originally planned for May 1stbut was delayed due to bad weather. Finally, on June 6th, 156,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches—losing between 2,400 and 4,000 lives—and Robert Capa was there to capture it on camera.
In 1862, amateur photographer William H. Mumler of Boston took a self-portrait in his studio, unaware of a ghostly apparition lurking directly behind him. It wasn’t until he viewed the resulting image of a pellucid arm draped casually across his shoulder that he realized the camera must have exposed the lingering spirit of his deceased cousin. With this eerie, novel image, Mumler, a jewelry engraver by trade, became the first of many photographers to claim having photographed a spirit. Photographs like Mumler’s provided timely evidence that spirits of the deceased freely interacted with the world of the living–a discovery he would milk for profit within the framework of the Spiritualist movement.
In 1846, dentist William T. G. Morton assembled a group of doctors in the operating theater at Massachusetts General Hospital, a sky-lit dome located on the hospital’s top floor. As the doctors watched from the dome’s stadium seating, Morton waved a sponge soaked in a mysterious substance called Letheon inches from his patient’s face. The patient quickly lost consciousness and remained completely still as a surgeon removed a tumor from his neck. Upon waking, the patient declared to his astonished audience that he had felt no pain. This surgery marked the first time the effective and safe use of anesthesia was demonstrated publicly, ending centuries of agonizing pain during surgery. It would also quickly spiral into a dramatic controversy surrounding Letheon’s discovery.
“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.