Some museums are more generous than others when it comes to sharing images from their collections. Places like the Rijksmuseum are extremely generous in allowing users to get access to high resolution images of the works in their collections, with no strings attached. Others, like the Louvre, provide small images of most the works in their collections but not high resolution downloads, and limit image use even when it's for study or academic purposes. The trend is moving towards more open access, but some museums (particularly smaller institutions who lack a budget for digitizing collections) are somewhat behind the curve, leading to a gap in even famous artist's catalogue raisonne. This is even more the case for privately held works. Fortunately for us, exhibition catalogs help to fill that gap with images of artworks missing from digital collections.
Recently, our Professor Bill Clark brought in the exhibition catalog for "Icons of Modern Art: The Collection of Sergei Shchukin," a show held last year at the Louis Vuitton Foundation Museum in Paris. Works that were once owned by Russian collector Sergei Shchukin but scattered to different collections after the Revolution were finally shown together again, including many famous French and Russian modern artists. The works are now housed at institutions like the Hermitage Museum, Pushkin Museum, and Tretyakov Gallery, and until these collections become more readily available online, we can use the catalog to fill the gaps in our own Visual Resources Collection. Check out the additions in ArtStor!
The NY Times has featured an article (in the Science section, no less) chronicaling the restoration of the Van Eyck brother's famous Early Renaissance piece, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, also know as the Ghent Altarpiece after its longtime home in the Ghent cathedral of St. Bavos.
Using a cutting-edge technique called "macro-X-ray fluorescence analysis" conservationists were able to determine that below the many layers of varnish and overpainting lay the original Van Eyck brushstrokes. It actually convinced the restorers, who were originally only going to clean the surface, to instead strip away the top layers of paint and varnish from one of the world's most famous paintings and reveal the original painting. "The result was 'without a trace of hyperbole, a triumph: awe inspiring and transformative,' said Michael Gallagher, a member of the international committee of experts and chief conservator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York."
Read more about the incredible process in the New York Times article here!
Professor Woodfin is teaching a course on the art of Medieval Jerusalem this semester, so I got to add these fabulous images of Crusader and Mamluk architecture from his course textbook, Where Heaven and Earth Meet: Jerusalem's Sacred Esplanade. It's a bit of a sensitive subject given the contentious history of Jerusalem and Queens' diverse student body, with sizeable numbers of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim students. The chronology of Jerusalem is pretty much just successive waves of domination by all these different groups for thousands of years.
On the plus side, it makes for some fascinating layers of history and architecture - centuries worth of renovations, additions, tear-downs, and reconstructions. For example, many of these 15th century Mamluk constructions repurpose 8th century carved Frankish stone, and then 19th century tile got added on top, creating layers of architecture that would seem to benefit from stratigraphy as much as parsing the surface.
Queens College was fortunate enough to acquire a huge, amazing collection of black and white photographs from Brown University that showcases Gothic and Medieval architecture from England and France. Professor Bill Clark had them squirreled away in his office for a year or so, but we've finally managed to organize them (alphabetically by city), and begin scanning and cataloging them.
Therefore, I'm very proud to announce that the Queens College Gothic Architecture Collection is now live! While I'd love to make the entire collection available in the Commons, so that anyone with an internet connection could view them, we don't yet have the permission from Brown University. For the present, you can find these images in an institutional collections of ArtStor by scrolling to the end of the Queens College Collections list. (Since ArtStor is offered only through the Rosenthal Library databases, don't forget to have your QC ID handy to log in!)
In the meantime, here's a taste of the photographs we're cataloging!
About the VR Coordinator
Jacqui Hopely Monkell has been the Visual Resources Coordinator at Queens College since 2015. She maintains this website while juggling her other VR responsibilities. If you find something art history related that she might find interesting, drop her a line!