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Art History

Paris Musées Releases 100,000 Images of Artworks for Unrestricted Public Use

January 10, 2020

Grace Ebert

Setting Sun on the Seine at Lavacourt” by Claude Monet (1880), oil on canvas, part of the collection at Petit Palais, Paris

This week the Paris Musées added 100,000 digital copies of its artworks to the public domain, making them free and unrestricted for the public to download and use. From Claude Monet’s “Setting Sun on the Seine at Lavacourt” to Paul Cézanne’s “Portrait of Ambroise Vollard,” the collection contains work from artists, such as Gustave Courbet, Victor Hugo, and Rembrandt, that are housed at 14 museums in Paris like the Musée d’Art Moderne, Petit Palais, and even the catacombs.

Each file contains the high-resolution image, a description about the piece, and the location of the original work, in addition to an exhibition history and citation tips. Most of the images available right now capture 2D works, although there are lower resolution files available of pieces that are not yet in the public domain, providing visitors to the site a chance to view more of the museums’ collections. The site also offers virtual exhibitions, with a project centered on the collections at Maison de Victor Hugo currently on view. (via Hyperallergic)

Portrait of Juliette Courbet” by Gustave Courbet (1844), oil on canvas, part of the collection at Petit Palais

Portrait of Ambroise Vollard” by Paul Cézanne (1899), oil on canvas, part of the collection at Petit Palais, Paris

Julia Jackson from the front ‘Stella’” by Julia Margaret Cameron (1867), photograph printed on albumen paper, part of the collection at Maison de Victor Hugo

Presentation in the Temple” by Jacques Daret (1434-1435), oil on wood, part of the collection at Petit Palais, Paris

Bronze medal of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (19th century), part of the collection at Musée Carnavalet

Portrait of Mr. Victor Hugo” by Léon Bonnat (1879), oil on canvas, part of the collection at Maison de Victor Hugo

Thirty-seven portraits of Voltaire” by Dominique Vivant-Denon (1775), print, part of the collection at Musée Carnavalet

 

 

 



History

A Quirky Collection of Cat Whiskers Diligently Cataloged in a Handbound Book from the 1940s

January 2, 2020

Grace Ebert

An inside spread of the handmade book created from 1940-1942 by Janet Gnosspelius. All images © Collingwood Archive, shared with permission

This recent discovery in the Collingwood Archive of the Cardiff University Special Collections purrfectly catalogs a young girl’s childhood quirks. A handmade book by Janet Gnosspelius contains every one of her cats’ whiskers found in her home from 1940 to 1942. Gnosspelius wove the whiskers into the pages, dated, and noted how each was discovered, whether “while playing darts,” “under edge of lino in pantry,” on the “dining room hearthrug,” or “under back door draught protector.”

Gnosspelius was the daughter of artist and sculptor Barbara Collingwood and the granddaughter of W.G. Collingwood, John Ruskin’s secretary, and was one of the first women to attend the Liverpool School of Architecture. Archivists say the meticulous nature Gnosspelius exhibited in creating her book remained throughout her life as she worked in “local history and building conservation, regularly posting samples of masonry to Liverpool City Planning Office, neatly labelled with their provenance and date, demanding their restoration.”

At age 40, Gnosspelius channeled her creative energy once again into creating a special diary documenting the lives of her feline friends. “The diary is no ordinary one,” a note to Colossal from archivists reads. “It is written from the perspective of her beloved ginger cat Butterball, recording the dates of his fights, illnesses, and stays with friends: ‘9 March 1965: wrapped my mouse in the mat outside kitchen door.'” More information about Gnosspelius’s family history is available in this online exhibition.

 

 



History Photography

Striking Photographs Capture Ornate Patterns of Historic Iranian Mosques and Palaces

December 30, 2019

Grace Ebert

All images © Fatemeh Hosein Aghaei, shared with permission. Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan, Iran

Iran-based artist Fatemeh Hosein Aghaei takes mesmerizing photographs that showcase the intricate patterns inside the country’s ancient buildings. The artist mostly features mosques in the Iranian city of Isfahan, which is located about 250 miles south of Tehran and is known for its Perso–Islamic designed structures, boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, tile-filled mosques, and minarets. In her photographs, Hosein Aghaei often looks upward to frame the building’s domes and arches complete with complex colorful designs, sometimes even adding glimpses of the city’s blue skies. The artist tells Colossal that she wants her work to capture and share the beauty of Iran’s historic architecture. Keep up with Hosein Aghaei’s captivating images on Instagram.

Sheykh Abdussamad Mausoleum

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan, Iran

Dowlatabad Garden of Yazd

Ali Qapu Palace of Isfahan, Iran

Jameh Mosque of Isfahan, Iran

Emam Mosque of Isfahan, Iran

Agha Bozorg Mosque of Kashan

Agha Bozorg Mosque of Kashan

 

 



Art History

Researchers Unearth World’s Oldest Figurative Artwork in Indonesian Cave

December 13, 2019

Grace Ebert

A recent finding in Sulawesi, Indonesia, is changing our conceptions of the origins of visual art. Fifteen researchers this week published an article in Nature describing prehistoric cave art that they believe was created about 43,900 years ago. The art depicts multiple therianthropes—mythical creatures that have both human and animal characteristics like beaks and tails—hunting wild pigs and cattle with spears. Traditionally, therianthropes were employed for sharing folklore, religious myths, and spiritual beliefs. Clear renderings of the creatures are uncommon, the report says. The oldest depiction previously recorded is a carved figurine with the head of a cat that originated in Germany and dates back nearly 40,000 years. These Indonesian findings also predate the Lascaux cave paintings found in France by about 20,000 years. “This hunting scene is—to our knowledge—currently the oldest pictorial record of storytelling and the earliest figurative artwork in the world,” the report said. (via Artnet)

 

 



Art Design History

Download More Than 300 Art Books From the Getty Museum’s Virtual Library

December 2, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

“The Rosebud Garden of Girls” by Julia Cameron. Virtual Library title: “Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs” by Julian Cox, Colin Ford, Joanne Lukitsh, and Philippa Wright

Over the last five years, the Los Angeles-based Getty Museum has developed a program to share more than three hundred books in its Virtual Library. Each unabridged volume, drawn from the Getty Publications Archive, has been cleared for copyright issues and is available for free download. Greg Albers, Digital Publications Manager for Getty Publications, shared with Hyperallergic that books in the Virtual Library have been downloaded 398,058 times to date. The initiative is a way to keep compelling and historically important books available even if they have, literally, gone out of print. Topics in the Virtual Library collection range from fine and decorative art genres to features on specific artists. Dive into diverse titles including “Art and Eternity: The Nefertari Wall Paintings Conservation Project 1986 – 1992” and “Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs”—among dozens and dozens of others on the Virtual Library Website. (via Hyperallergic)

“Pilgrim Flask and Cover with Marine Scenes” (circ 1565-1570), Workshop of Orazio Fontana, tin-glazed earthenware. Virtual Library title: “Italian Ceramics: Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum Collection” by Catherine Hess

 

 



Art History Science

A Multicolored Library of the World’s Ochre Pigments Archived by Heidi Gustafson

November 24, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Medicinal and industrial ochres being processed and archived, Greece. All Images: Heidi Gustafson

Washington-based artist and researcher Heidi Gustafson forages, processes, and catalogs natural mineral samples for the Early Futures Ocher Archive. Ranging in color based on its elemental structure, ochre is crushed into a powder and used in various applications from art to medicine. With over 550 samples, Gustafson’s ever-growing archive has become a collaborative project with contributions from archaeologists, scientists, and creatives from around the world.

As each sample enters the collection, it is labeled with a corresponding number. In a notebook, Gustafson records where the ochre is from, who sourced or collected it, any historic or contemporary uses, and other relevant information. Gustafson grinds the iron-rich ochre into pigments, which she sells to artists and also uses for her own work. Processed samples are added to glass vials and organized by region or dominate mineral type. Gustafson also considers the material for its artistic, spiritual, and scientific properties. “More importantly, I build a relationship to the materials,” she tells Colossal. “I’m trying to understand their unique behaviors, the microbial communities they host and support, their tonal ranges, their historical uses and many other diverse features.”

Pigment studies, Left – foraged pigments from northern Washington, USA, Right- foraged pigments from Hormuz, Iran.

The archive was officially formed in 2017 when Gustafson relocated to the Pacific Northwest, but working with the material is more than a hobby or intellectual pursuit—it is a calling. After having a dream about ochre, she initially wrote it off. Other experiences and anxieties about climate change inspired her to research exactly what ochre was and what it was used for. “I realized that ochre and pigments were at the heart of art and aesthetic experience,” Gustafson tells Colossal, adding that the mineral has been linked to complex mental processing in modern homo sapiens. “Protecting ochre’s vast capacities and impact on human creativity, feels like Earth’s mandate to me,” Gustafson continued. “I didn’t ‘come up’ with the idea for this project, it came to me and I felt responsible to do my best to understand and listen to that call.”

To tag along on foraging trips and for updates on the archive, follow Heidi Gustafson on Instagram. To shop for pigment sets and other products from the project or to contribute samples of your own, visit the Early Futures website.

Gathering orange ochre, Oregon, USA.

Ochre contribution, protective isibomvu used by healers, from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Gathering blue ochre, with artist Scott Sutton, Oregon, USA.

Ochre contributions, gathered by Caro Ross, England.

Pigment study, red ochre, world-wide.

Ochre Archive (close-up)

Gathering yellow ochre, Arizona, USA.

Gathering various ochre, British Columbia, Canada.

 

 



Design History

A Miniature Magazine Penned by Teenage Charlotte Brontë is (Finally) Acquired by the Famous Author’s Namesake Museum

November 21, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

It’s often said that even the most successful people start small. What they probably don’t mean, though, is that to become an author equal to the timeless stature of Charlotte Brontë, you should pen a miniature magazine first. Yet Brontë did just that: in 1830, at age fourteen, she hand-wrote six issues of a petite periodical, one of which recently came up at auction for $777,000. The Young Men’s Magazine was a matchbook-sized series including stories and even advertisements of Brontë’s devising.

The Brontë Society placed the winning bid to acquire Brontë’s magazine, wresting it back from the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts, a now-shuttered for-profit (and fraud-ridden) venture that nabbed it in 2011. Learn more about the history and significance of The Young Men’s Magazine in the video below, which features Ann Dinsdale, the curator of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, England.