The NEH Division of Preservation and Access has published an online article about our two consecutive NEH projects to digitize the Frick Library negatives on its new website. Written by Mary Downs, Senior Program Officer, it is titled "Is there a Portrait in Your Past? Frick Art Reference Library Records Go Online."
Scholars celebrate photoarchives for providing access to little-known works of art housed in private collections or in circulation on the art market. A feature of photoarchives that is less often appreciated, however, is how comprehensively they document famous works of art on public view.
The story of the "overzealous" restoration of a family portrait as related by the painting's current owner illustrates how crucial this type of personal information is to the documentation of the Photoarchive.
Perhaps one third of Photoarchive reproductions are cut from publications, including catalogs, books, newspapers, and magazines. This advertisement sheet for a painting possibly by Ralph Albert Blakelock (illustrated at left) was printed in 1942. As the sheet describes, the dealer Americana Arts is offering a landscape with teepees that might or might not be a good deal:
Although most of the Photoarchive’s 1.2 million reproductions illustrate art from just eight national schools, works from an additional forty countries and regions classified “minor schools” are also represented. An artist from the Tyrolese School, which encompasses works from the intersection of Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany, is presumed to have painted this representation (left) of a fifteenth-century statue called the Black Madonna of Einsiedeln.
Interior of the Artist's Apartment, made sometime after 1910 by the American painter and watercolorist Walter Gay, shows a narrow view of a sitting area in Walter and his wife Matilda's Paris apartment at 11 Rue de l'Université, where the couple had moved in May 1909.
Dr. Charles A. Ryskamp (1928–2010), Director of The Frick Collection from 1987 to 1997 and, prior to that, of the Morgan Library & Museum, spent more than fifty years developing an extraordinary personal collection of European drawings. Passionate about collecting from a young age, his interest took a serious turn while he was a graduate student at Yale. He avidly collected books and manuscripts related to his studies, then branched into the visual arts when he purchased two Edward Lear drawings while he was a research fellow at Cambridge.
In 1943, Brooklyn artist Esta Cosgrave (née Esther Flack) (ca. 1900–1952) adopted a quirky style of painting modern-day likenesses in 18th- and 19th–century costumes and poses. Her portraits borrowed their contexts from the works of American painters John Singleton Copley, Robert Feke, Jeremiah Theus and their contemporaries, and also from pictures by unknown, itinerant painters.
Photoarchive intern Alexandra Provo and her collaborator Diana Sapanaro discuss their projects to use visualization technologies and Python scripts to make one of the Library's research tools, Spanish Artists from the Fourth to the Twentieth Century: A Critical Dictionary, accessible to the public in new ways.