There is a lot of discussion on the relevancy of museums, collections and the online museum experience. Budget reductions have curtailed museum hours diminishing the enjoyment of a physical visit, but a virtual tour can reveal an abundance of images and new information expanding the scope of a museum’s outreach. The Getty Museum offers a seemingly unending number of images in their online gallery from the permanent collection. Keeping the virtual museum updated with current exhibits, classes, after-hours activities and blog entries can lead to another level of interest not available for a normal museum visit. Two unique features of the Getty are the Research Institute and the Conservation Institute. Digging deeper on their site one can find distinctive pieces showcased through interactive tools as with the current project, Cranach Magnified.
A comparative image tool working with several paintings from the career of Lucas Cranach the Elder allows the viewer to choose different areas of the picture to study in closer detail in a three step process.
A leading painter of the German Renaissance, Lucas Cranach served Duke Frederick from 1507-1553. He oversaw a busy workshop, meeting the high demand for portraits, popular religious and mythological scenes. Multiple versions created at the workshop have complicated Cranach studies, but his signature approach to the nude form, calligraphic brushwork, textured foliage and surprising minute features are characteristic of his style. This tool of comparison is intended to help researchers better understand the painter’s technique.
Below are some choice favorites of mine from the pages of the Getty galleries.
Entrance to the Jardin Turc
Louis Leopold Boilly, French, 1812
A resident of this Marais neighborhood where the scene occurs, Boilly placed a self-portrait in the painting’s crowd on the right edge. He is depicted in spectacles and top hat. Napoleonic Paris on the shaded boulevard outside the Jardin Turn (Turkish Garden Cafe), a popular establishment that offered the middle class clientele pleasures reserved for the aristocracy. Two young street performers entertain the crowd; one showing an elegant couple his tame marmot, while the other puts on a puppet show for children.
Abduction of Europa
Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, Dutch, 1632
Ovid, the ancient Roman poet, told the story of Jupiter disguising himself as a white bull in order to seduce the princess Europa away from her companions and carry her across the sea to the distant land that would bear her name. Rembrandt rarely painted mythological subjects, but this painting conveys the narrative story through dramatic gesture and visual effects. The varied textures of the sumptuous costumes and glittering gold highlights on the carriage and dresses add to the depth of the visual depiction.
Mischief and Repose
John William Godward, English, 1895
The continued excavations of Pompeii fascinated artists with Greek and Roman life. John William Godward painted many scenes of the ancient times with idealized beauties in calm environments. Like their antique settings, the models possess a monumental quality, resembling Greek statues frozen in time.
Storm on a Mediterranean Port
Claude Joseph Vernet, French, 1767
A storm’s aftermath; dark clouds above an angry sea, a shipwrecked boat, anxious survivors, and listing ships in the distance. With the sea beating furiously against the shoreline, waves explode beyond the rocks in a spray of foam. Suggesting the powerful force of nature over man, the lighthouse stands solidly upright at the center, countering the chaos.
Thank you for sharing this Museum Monday with me. Next week I will take a virtual tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright Museum, suggested by Leonard Grossman. Friday will bring another Cabinet of Curiosities, no telling what I will find whilst doing my research this week, perhaps another great hamster of the Alsace, or a story from the Medici treasury.