A.J. Downing & His Legacy

Downing_Blog_imageLast fall, Avery Library’s Classics Reading Room featured an exhibition exploring the legacy of A.J. Downing. Those of you who missed it  can now view the digital version of the exhibition!

A.J. Downing & His Legacy

Alexander Jackson Downing is known as the “father” of the American architectural pattern book. Downing saw both how books could transmit design ideas in words and pictures, and how modest houses with Romantic Revival design gestures could form the basis for an improved American housing for its middle classes, particularly in rural and small town settings. To further that end, he published three important works: A treatise on the theory and practice of landscape gardening (first issued in 1841); Cottage residences (first published 1842); and The architecture of country houses (first issued in 1852).

This exhibition, originally mounted in Avery Library’s Classics Reading Room to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth, showcases several editions of Downing’s publications and those of his many successors. It offers a glimpse into the world of mid-19th century architectural publishing in the United States and reveals how Downing’s distillation of design ideas came to influence American housing for half a century.

Art Properties Description-to-Discovery Project

C00_110Searching for Art Work in the Columbia University Art Collection

For the first time, it is now possible to search for selected works from the Columbia University art collection. Art Properties, Avery Library, is pleased to announce the release of 1,728 item records for cultural artifacts and works of art. Among the items in this release are more than 400 oil paintings, 650 photographs, 400 drawings, watercolors, and prints, and decorative arts. Also included are records for the entire public outdoor sculpture collection, recent acquisitions to the collection, and highlights from the renowned Sackler Collections of East Asian and Near Eastern art.

This first release of descriptive data records in CLIO, the online catalog for Columbia University Libraries, represents approximately 15% of the entire collection stewarded by Art Properties. Additional records will be released on an ongoing basis, making CLIO the primary discovery space for art works in Columbia’s collection. To see a complete listing of the currently available item records:

Below is a sample CLIO record for the work you see above, a portrait of Columbia President Frederick A. P. Barnard, painted by Eastman Johnson in 1886.

CLIOscreenshot-AP

More search tips!

When searching in CLIO for a particular artist or topic, it is possible to narrow search results to show only art works from the collection. To do this, limit Format to “Art Works (Original).” For instance, if you search for “Andy Warhol,” you can limit your format option to see item records for all original works of art by Warhol in the University collection. Other advanced search options include using subject headings such as culture, century, and genre type to expand or narrow your search.

The amount of descriptive information that appears in each item record varies, but these records will be enhanced over time as new research is conducted on the collection. Although there are no images attached to these records, Art Properties gradually is advancing in its initiative to digitize the collection and make images available to the public as well.

Our thanks to colleagues in the Columbia University Libraries’ cataloging and technology divisions for their collaboration with staff from the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library and Art Properties on development of the Art Properties Description-to-Discovery Project.

Works from the University art collection are available for research and study, curricular integration, and educational programs, as well as for exhibition loans to museums and institutions. To make an appointment to see works from the University art collection, contact Art Properties at 212-854-2877 or artproperties@library.columbia.edu.

 

Viewbooks: Window into America

 

Chicago

Chicago, the city beautiful. Chicago, [194-?] AA735 C4 C4345 S

Viewbooks: Window into America

Curators: Teresa Harris and Lena Newman
June 20, 2016-October 31, 2016
Monday – Friday: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Avery Classics Reading Room, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library

Avery Library opens its summer exhibition with a delightful display of selections from its American Viewbooks collection. The exhibit celebrates the completion of our CLIR Hidden Collections grant project

The Rare Book and Manuscript Section of the American Library Association defines viewbooks as a type of published booklet “consisting primarily of views of particular places, events, and activities, sometimes connected by accordion folds.” Avery Classics holds more than 4,000 such titles, focusing almost exclusively on American towns and cities at the end of the 19th- and beginning of the 20th-century. These ephemeral publications were originally intended for a variety of purposes – as souvenirs to be purchased by tourists, as advertisements to prospective residents, and as published records of specific events. Heavily illustrated, viewbooks often include images of new civic buildings, businesses on Main Street and various other features of the local built environment.

For today’s researcher, viewbooks are a wonderful window into a past America, one in the midst of rapid urban and suburban development. Viewbooks have survived as accidental records of the changing architectural landscape across America at the turn of the century. They chronicle the developing and uniquely-American vernacular architecture vocabulary. They also provide a window into the rapidly changing printing and publishing landscape. Making use of new technologies to reproduce photographs quickly and cheaply, viewbooks are an excellent way to approach the history of printing and the accessibility of printed matter. Finally, viewbooks give modern-day readers a glimpse of how towns and cities across the country – some still thriving, others long faded – presented themselves and positioned themselves for the future. From New Holstein, Wisconsin to New York City, Viewbooks represent a place’s attempt to put its best foot forward and to situate itself in the greater American cultural landscape.

City of the Soul: Rome and the Romantics exhibition

Panoramic view of Rome from The Illustrated London News, Vol. 16 (Jan. to June 1850)

Panoramic view of Rome from The Illustrated London News, Vol. 16 (Jan. to June 1850)

City of the Soul: Rome and the Romantics

June 17-September 11, 2016
The Morgan Library, New York

Avery Classics materials feature prominently in a new exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum entitled City of the Soul: Rome and the Romantics. As the curators of the show point out, “Rome exists not only as an intensely physical place, but also as a romantic idea onto which artists, poets, and writers project their own imaginations and longings. City of the Soul examines the evolving image of Rome in art and literature with a display of books, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and drawings.” Among the items loaned by Avery Classics are a panorama of Rome from The Illustrated London News (above), a travel album with hand-colored images of Rome that may have belonged to Friedrich Wilhelm, King of Prussia, and a detailed map of the city produced by Paul-Marie Letarouilly in 1841. Avery Digital Lab prepared a high-resolution digital image of the Letarouilly map, which was used by the Morgan to create a digital walking tour of Rome, allowing visitors to see some of the works on display next to modern-day images of the monuments.

Prince & Princess of Wales in Butler Library

DSC_0283-croppedsmallerAnyone who has ever visited Butler Library’s main reading room on the 300 level likely has looked up and seen the two life-size royal portraits that have hung high on the south wall for more than fifty years.  Donated by alumnus Edmund Astley Prentis in 1949, these paintings were presented to the University as portraits by unknown artists of Columbia’s eponymous founder King George II and his wife.  However, new research has now been published about these paintings, and the names of the artists and the sitters have been properly identified for the first time.

To learn more about these eighteenth-century British portraits of Prince Frederick Louis and Princess Augusta, read the essay written by Roberto C. Ferrari, Curator of Art Properties, and published in the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of the Historians of British Art Newsletter.  You can download the PDF for free through Columbia University Academic Commons by going to http://dx.doi.org/10.7916/D84J0F4Z.

Cutaway: Drawing the Architectural Section

Labacco_2Cutaway: Drawing the Architectural Section

Curator: Teresa Harris
March 14, 2016 – June 17, 2016
Monday – Friday: 9:00am – 5:00pm

By the early sixteenth century, architects had established conventions for depicting the most important aspects of buildings, namely their elevations, plans, and sections. These conventions have continued to the present day, although computer-aided drafting and three-dimensional modeling programs have begun to alter the architect’s relationship to drawing. This exhibition focuses on a single type of drawing – the section – created by cutting a plane through a structure, allowing an architect to evoke the interior spatial complexity of a building. The images range from Palladio’s section of the Villa La Rotonda (1570) to Ólafur Eliasson’s Your House (2006) in which each of the 454 leaves represent a vertical cross-section of the artist’s own house in Copenhagen.

Conservation Partnership: Art Properties and IFA Conservation Center

BT_DT_AD Detail Head

(The statuette before, during, and after conservation)

In Fall 2013, Art Properties began a program with the NYU Institute of Fine Arts Conservation Center to loan objects from Columbia’s art collection to the IFA CC so that students could benefit from object-centered learning. The IFA CC offers graduate degrees to students interested in the technical study and preservation of art and cultural heritage objects, such as paintings, sculpture in all media, and ceramics. Each semester one or more professors from the IFA CC have coordinated with the Curator of Art Properties to select works related to courses taught that semester. Examples to date have included the study and preservation of polychrome wood sculpture, as well as marble and bronze figurines.

This cooperative program has been mutually beneficial for both the IFA CC and Columbia. Students have the opportunity to work hands-on cleaning, stabilizing, and analyzing these objects, under the supervision of their Professor and in consultation with the Curator of Art Properties. Student conservation assessments, reports about each stage of their work, and technical photography are added to the Art Properties curatorial files so that future scholars can learn more about these objects in our collection. Below is one example of the work done by these students; future summaries will be posted over time to spread the word about this successful collaborative educational program. — Roberto C. Ferrari, Curator of Art Properties

Conservation Project & Report by Megan Randall, 2014

Image 2-croppedThe Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception
Probably 18th century, Spanish Colonial Mexico or Mesoamerica
Wood with traces of polychromy and gold leaf, with glass eyes
H. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm)
Art Properties, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library
Columbia University in the City of New York
Gift of the Estate of Lola Szladits, 1990 (1990.8.25)

This treatment of the Spanish Colonial Virgin from the 18th century was completed as part of my training in the Polychrome Sculpture seminar with Professor Michele Marincola at the Institute of Fine Arts Conservation Center of New York University. I received the small statuette without any knowledge of its specific historical context or materials. As a result, the amount of information I gained in the examination and technical analysis of the object was significant. Although there are many interesting details of the treatment, research, and analysis of the statuette, this summary will deal with only one aspect of the treatment: the reversal and rejoining of the old repairs in the face of the figure.

Previous repairs to the face were failing. Small flakes of adhesive were loose in the join and the proper right segment of the face was visibly misaligned. In order to restore physical and visual integrity to the work, the adhesive in the join was reversed with ethanol and water and the old adhesive and insect residue on the surfaces were cleaned and slightly contoured to their proper alignment. The reversal of the old join revealed three things: the extent of the (dormant) insect activity in the form of worm holes and larva; the manufacturing method of securing the glass eyes in a ball of resin within a carved socket; and that the join consisted of three pieces instead of the previously-believed one piece.

DT_After Cleaning_HeadThe procedure of reversing the join, cleaning surfaces, and shaping the dry-fit of the three pieces into their proper alignment were completed with time, consideration, and significant restraint in order to achieve the best possible results. The rejoining of the pieces back onto the statuette also had to be done quickly to ensure the adhesive was still tacky. The process was a quick and efficient race of warming the surfaces, adhesive application, and clamping the join. Because this task would only take a minute or less to complete, it was necessary to practice ahead of time the order of the pieces to be adhered and the placement of the clamps so that any kinks in the process were considered and resolved prior to the treatment.

The surfaces were slightly heated with a radiant heat tool to encourage the affinity of the surfaces to the also-warm adhesive. Next, the warm adhesive, a 30% hide glue in distilled water, was applied to the surfaces with a brush, and the pieces were re-adhered to the statuette. Pressure was applied to the joins by using small clamps to ensure that the surfaces were properly connected. The clamps were left in place for 24 hours, then removed and inspected. The success of this phase of the treatment was thrilling. The treatment achieved the goals of restoring physical and visual integrity to the statuette and provided an ideal educational scenario to employ future treatment methods.DT_Clamping Detail

 

Avery Art Properties at the Norton Museum of Art

Stett- Jenny & G- 67_23_27-postconservation

Florine Stettheimer, Jenny and Genevieve, ca. 1915, oil on canvas, 32 x 43 3/8 in. (81.2 x 110.3 cm), Art Properties, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University in the City of New York, Gift of the Estate of Ettie Stettheimer, 1967 (1967.23.27)

Art Properties has loaned six paintings by Florine Stettheimer and a drawing by Marguerite Zorach to the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, for their current exhibition O’Keeffe, Stettheimer, Torr, Zorach: Women Modernists in New York. This exhibition considers the art and careers of Marguerite Zorach, Florine Stettheimer, Helen Torr, and Georgia O’Keeffe together for the first time. These women all knew one another and worked in New York. They sought to be recognized as artists in their own right, but their identity as women shaped the circumstances under which they worked, the forms their art took, and the way their pictures were interpreted. Among the works on loan from Art Properties is Stettheimer’s vibrantly-colored painting Jenny and Genevieve, which was conserved for this show. In this work the artist explores class and racial distinctions in her depiction of a black servant and a white customer in a cafe.