The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has received a major gift in the form of Leonard Lauder’s collection of Cubist art, considered one of the greatest of its kind still in private hands. The 78 works in the Lauder Collection include 33 paintings by Pablo Picasso, 17 by Georges Braque, and 14 each by Juan Gris and Fernand Léger.
ARTstor has released a number of important new image collections recently. These include the following:
- The Courtauld Gallery (one of London’s most renowned small museums; it’s the home to Édouard Manet’s famous A Bar at the Folies-Bergère and other masterpieces of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting)
- IAP images from the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (the Walters has long contributed to ARTstor, but now it is making available high-resolution images of its works suitable for publication as part of the Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) program)
- Additional images from the Indianapolis Museum of Art (over 1000 new images from the museum, some of which are also part of the IAP program)
For a more complete list of recent collection releases in ARTstor, click here.
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has just released Rijksstudio, its new online collection of 125,000 images. You have to register (for free) in order to do much with the site, but it does then allow you to download excellent images of works from the Rijksmuseum’s peerless collection of Dutch art. The site’s Terms and Conditions do permit personal use of its images (e.g., in a Powerpoint presentation) without requiring a fee or special permission, but for commercial or professional use (including publications), you still have to apply to the Rijksmuseum by filling out an online form.
A new website on Rembrandt has just been released by the RKD (Netherlands Institute for Art History) in The Hague. Although this beta version includes only a few of his paintings so far, it looks like it will become an important online resource for scholars and students of the Dutch master.
Here’s the announcement:
As of today, The Rembrandt Database is online at www.rembrandtdatabase.org.
The Rembrandt Database is a freely accessible English-language website containing research material – texts, images and other research data – on paintings by Rembrandt or attributed to him, either now or in the past, from multiple institutions The Rembrandt Database aims to become the first port of call for those researching Rembrandt’s paintings. The Rembrandt Database focuses in particular on making available the body of visual and textual material that has arisen from the technical analysis and treatment of the paintings.
After a long period of behind-the-scenes work on cataloguing, digitizing and describing documentation, entering art-historical data and developing the database and the user interface, the website can now be seen by everyone for the first time. It is still in the beta stage, but will continue to be developed and will be expanded to include new functions. Much more content is already in preparation!
We want to thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its generous support, all of our partners for their collaboration and all participants in the user tests for their feedback! We look forward to continuing our collaboration with (more) partners and to improve and expand this website in the next months and years.
We hope that this will be a useful tool for research on Rembrandt and that you will enjoy working with it. We appreciate your feedback.
Last summer I announced a preview for a new website on Jan and Hubert van Eyck’s Polyptych of the Mystic Lamb, commonly called the Ghent Altarpiece. The completed site, called “Closer to Van Eyck: Rediscovering the Ghent Altarpiece,” is now online. Created by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage in Brussels, Belgium, and funded by a grant from the Getty Foundation, this site lets you explore this Early Netherlandish masterpiece up close. In addition to high-resolution macrophotography that allows you to zoom in on minute details, there are also x-rays and infrared images that allow you to look beneath the surface of the paint. The Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage has been one of the pioneers in such technical examinations of works of art since the 1950s.
The new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened on November 11 in Bentonville, Arkansas. Housed in a building designed by architect Moshe Safdie, the museum features an impressive collection of American art amassed by Alice Walton, daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and heiress to the company’s fortune. Bentonville, a small city in the Ozarks of northwestern Arkansas, is also home to Wal-Mart’s corporate headquarters.
John Wilmerding, the distinguished historian of American art, advised Walton in her purchases for the new museum. Among the most important works at the Crystal Bridges are paintings by Asher B. Durand, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, George Bellows, Thomas Hart Benton, and Norman Rockwell. Despite its relatively small size and remote location, the collection has instantly become one of the best in the country for American art.
Some critics have had a hard time regarding the Crystal Bridges as anything other than the “Wal-Mart Museum of Art.” And Walton’s acquisitions in recent years have not been without controversy. In 2005 she outbid such New York institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art to obtain Durand’s Kindred Spirits, a major landscape of the Hudson River School, from the New York Public Library. But she failed in her attempt the following year to secure Eakins’s masterpiece, The Gross Clinic, from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. After a citywide campaign to match Walton’s $68 million offer, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts arranged to purchase the work jointly in 2007, and thereby kept the painting from leaving the city. Both institutions were forced to sell other works by Eakins in their collections to raise the necessary funds.
The Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution has donated nearly 300 Works Progress Administration (WPA) photographs from the 1930s to Wikimedia Commons, the image collection affiliated with Wikipedia. These include portraits of artists like Charles Alston and Arshile Gorky, and photos showing artists at work on public murals and other Great Depression-era projects. You can view the complete collection here.
As works created explicitly for the Federal Government, most WPA works are not copyrightable and have therefore always been in the public domain. That means you can legally download and use these high-resolution images however you want, without having to seek permission.
Read more about this Smithsonian-Wikimedia collaboration here.
Belgium’s Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage in Brussels has created a new website for images of the Van Eyck brothers’ celebrated Ghent Altarpiece, one of the most important works of Northern Renaissance art.
Only a preview version of the site is currently available, and its images are limited to infrared reflectography made during the recent restoration of the altarpiece. Infrared reflectography (IRR) is a tool in the technical examination of a painting to reveal the preliminary sketches, or underdrawings, that lie beneath the paint surface. These underdrawings often provide clues to the artistic process, such as what changes the artist made along the way, or even who the artist was.
The full site is expected to launch in January 2012, and it will presumably also contain full-color views and details of the altarpiece.
A few more art-related items in the recent headlines:
- An obituary for Cy Twombly, 1928-2011. The American artist, best known for making paintings that look like blackboard scribbles, died on July 5th at age 83.
- An architectural review of Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House in China.
- An article on Samuel F. B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre. The painting, currently on view at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, is one subject in David McCullough’s new book, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris.