The Papal Visit

Caradosso, Pope Julius II [obverse] and View of Saint Peter's [reverse], 1506 (photo: Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington)

Caradosso, Pope Julius II [obverse] and View of Saint Peter’s [reverse], 1506 (photo: Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington)

Let’s face it: if you live around here, you’re probably not going to be doing a lot of driving this weekend. With all the pandemonium surrounding Pope Francis’s visit to Philadelphia, many of us are either hunkering down at home or getting out of town altogether.

What better time to think about all your favorite popes in art? Of course the first pope, Saint Peter, is a key figure. During the Middle Ages, there were a bunch of popes named Gregory and Innocent and whatnot. There was a Saint Francis (who was said to have miraculously appeared to Pope Nicholas V), but until 2013 there had never been a Pope Francis. For awhile, the Papal Court even moved from Rome to southern France, and sometimes there were simply too many popes at once. At the height of the Renaissance, Julius II commissioned Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Stanze frescoes, and Bramante’s design for rebuilding Saint Peter’s Basilica. He also collected ancient sculptures like the Apollo Belvedere and Laocoön, which would inspire generations of artists. But not everybody was a fan of such papal indulgence, or indulgences for that matter. Martin Luther and other reformers soon challenged the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. When the Medici Pope Clement VII refused to annul the first marriage of Henry VIII, the king essentially declared himself the pope of England. The Vatican countered with a series of strong popes in the later 16th and 17th centuries. Innocent X was the patron of the Baroque sculptor Algardi, while Alexander VII preferred Bernini. But the temporal power of the popes began to wane in the 18th century, and by the death of the Pius IX in 1878, the Vatican complex was all that remained under their control.

All of these images–and many thousands more–are now free and available for anyone to use (legally!) because they were provided by institutions that have adopted generous Open Access policies. So thank you to such museums as the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Walters Art Museum, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery, among others. I encourage everyone to reward them with a little extra Web traffic this papal weekend!

New Images Available in Artstor

George Caleb Bingham, The Country Election, 1851-1852, Saint Louis Art Museum

George Caleb Bingham, The Country Election, 1851-1852, Saint Louis Art Museum

New images have recently been added to the Artstor Digital Library:

Getty Open Content Program

Greek, Victorious Youth, 300-100 BCE, Getty Villa, Malibu

Greek, Victorious Youth, 300-100 BCE, Getty Villa, Malibu (Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program)

This week the J. Paul Getty Museum joins a growing list of institutions that have decided to remove all restrictions to the use of images of art works in their collections. The Getty’s Open Content Program was announced on Monday, making available an initial group of nearly 4,700 high-resolution digital images of objects from its locations in Los Angeles and Malibu, California. More images, including ones from the Getty Research Institute and the Getty Conservation Institute, will eventually also be added.

You can browse all Open Content images here, or search for particular works on the Getty’s website. A download button will appear under the thumbnail of any images that are part of the Program. You will be asked to provide some very generic information about who you are and what you’ll be using the image for (more specific information is required if you plan to publish it). But aside from that, you are generally free to use the image for any purpose, as long as you simply credit the Getty as the source of the image, as in the caption at left. And all of these images are made available free of charge. You can read more about the Getty’s Open Content Program at the following links:

The J. Paul Getty Museum holds outstanding collections of Greek and Roman antiquities, Medieval manuscripts, European paintings and drawings, decorative arts, and photographs.

Note: Please do not confuse the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Open Content images with Getty Images, a for-profit stock photo company with no connection to the Museum or any other part of the Getty Trust.