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A new database launched by an international consortium of art institutions is working to grant internet users unprecedented access to dozens of art historical photo archives, which capture multiple images of a single artwork over time. Collectively known as PHAROS, the group is gradually digitizing millions of images, many of which are previously unpublished and accessible only through physical visits to individual research repositories. The 14 institutions involved include the Frick Collection (which is leading the project), Rome’s Bibliotheca Hertziana, the Courtauld Institute, Getty Research Institute, Paris’s Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Washington D.C.’s National Gallery of Art, and the Yale Center for British Art.
At its completion, Pharos will exist as a searchable database of about 25 million images, most of which are of actual art objects from all over the world; other images consist of supplementary material, such as x-ray photos taken during conservation, or photos of the back of a painting. You may currently sift through over 158,000 images, from eight of the partner institutions, searching by an artwork’s date, artist, dimensions, medium, and more.
All this information will help you track various copies of a single artwork by different artists. As PHAROS’ president, Inge Reist (also the Frick’s Director of the Center for the History of Collecting) told the New York Times, a painting of Sir Thomas More illustrates the database’s purpose well. The original 1527 portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger hangs in the Frick, while other copies by Holbein and other painters belong in multiple public and private collections; PHAROS brings images of them together in one place, including those that have never before been printed in publications.
Pharos’s database is aimed primarily aimed at scholars — although it is freely available for all to use — and is dedicated to uploading a work’s attribution and provenance as well as conservation, exhibition, and bibliographic histories. Material from photo archives are typically images mounted on cardboard, which also records captions from art historians who have shared their thoughts on the object over time, and all of this written text will be digitized, providing users with access to unique commentary. Researchers who have particular images they’d like to search for can also upload them to the PHAROS database, which will perform an image search to find multiple images of the same artwork.
First established in the late 19th century, photoarchives were much-needed resources for scholars whose art history books often had little to no illustrations. The Frick Collection was home to the very first photoarchive in the United States, thanks to the initiative of its founder’s daughter.
“As early as 1922, Helen Clay Frick personally organized international photographic expeditions to record significant and rarely reproduced works of art, creating the first-ever public repository of its kind in the country,” Ian Wardropper, director of The Frick Collection, said in a statement. She had commissioned photographers to capture over 55,000 pictures of artworks; today, the museum’s photoarchives hold over 1.2 million images.
PHAROS plans to upload seven million images online from its 14 partners by 2020. While the current institutions are all based in North America and Europe, the database will eventually expand to include records from more photoarchives around the world.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…