Tag Archives: virtual tour

Museum Monday at the Getty

By Mary Jo Gibson

April 6, 2015

Renaissance Splendors of the Northern Italian Courts

The Getty has always embraced new mediums for museum exhibitions by enhancing the museum experience on levels that will reach the widest possible audience.  Their new exposition, Renaissance Splendors of the Northern Italian Courts, launched an accompanying virtual presentation and App displaying illuminated manuscripts alongside comparative art, timelines, and other influences, bringing a fresh new approach to the museum experience.

Saint John the Evangelist

Saint John the Evangelist, Lombardy, early 16th century, Master BF, cutting from an antiphonal, The J. Paul Getty Museum.

Illuminated manuscripts have suffered disbursement over the years, and the Getty retrospective reunites the numerous collections of pages that are physically scattered between disparate locations.  The majority of the objects are leaves (single pages) or cuttings (parts of pages) from choir books. This practice of re-purposing manuscripts whose contents had become outmoded was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. The practice of cutting up illuminated manuscripts led to many irreparable holes in the art historical record, with orphaned fragments making it difficult to reconstruct the full story of the artists’ collaboration on commissions.

Two Saints before God

Two Saints before God, Venice 1410-20, Cristoforo Cortese, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice.

Lives of the Twelve Caesars

Frontspiece, Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Venice, 1471, Giovanni Vendramin, artist, Suetonius, author, Archivio Storico Civico e Biblioteca Trivulziana.

A physical presentation of manuscripts suffers a limitation by only allowing visitors to view only a single opening (pair of pages) from a book.  Yet illuminated manuscripts are full of rich decoration and detail throughout.  In contrast, this virtual presentation allows several pages of such manuscripts to be viewed, comparing them with other works of art by the same artist and discussing the varied icons and symbolism.  If biblical history and saint iconography intrigue you, the App shares obscure information on these images alongside commentary on their representation in worship.

The Ascension

The Ascension, Venice 1410-20, Cristoforo Cortese, Private collection, San Francisco.

However, to this viewer, it is the art of these pages that is the star of the show.  The images originated in Milan and Venice, made for Princes, prelates, and other courtiers. While these intricate pages were only available for viewing by a select few, their art is preserved.  An important feature of the online exhibition is the ability to view these pages and their characteristics in hi-res detail.  The array of vibrant color and brilliant gold gives a complete viewing experience, as impressive today as it was 600 years ago.

Calling of the Saints Peter and Andrew

Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew, Private collection, San Francisco.

While exhibitions in museums give a singular experience, virtual presentations complement and extend the relevance of the artwork beyond just the physical pieces. By bringing these artworks together online from several varied sources making the result an international curatorial collaboration.  The resources within the App can be built upon, expanded, and used as educational tools on many levels, allowing the works to become an integral part of study much like any other online course.  The Getty has broken new ground with their App and the virtual exhibition that accompanies the Renaissance Splendors of the Northern Italian Courts. I look forward to many more efforts from them in the virtual museum experience.

transporting the Ark of the Covenant

Transporting the Ark of the Covenant Verona, 1476-1500, Francesco dai Libri, Psalter, Archivio Storico Civico e Biblioteca Trivulziana.

Conversion of Saint Paul

The Conversion of Saint Paul, attributed to Pisanello and the Master of the Antiphonal Q of San Giorgio Maggiore, The J. Paul Getty Museum.

Thank you for viewing my Museum Monday at the Getty, I hope you enjoy the exhibition and the virtual experience as much I enjoyed sharing it with you readers!







Leave a comment

Filed under April

Cabinet of Curiosities

Inside of view 3

The Augsburg Art Cabinet virtual tour is a featured item in this week’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

inside the Augsburg cabinet

The Museum at Gustavianum developed an exciting interactive view of this historic masterpiece, referred to  as the Eighth Wonder of the World.  Such high praise raises expectations to the extreme, although well deserved.  Not only is the cabinet one of the best preserved pieces of 17th century antiquity, the collected contents survived intact, providing a microcosm of the day and showcasing how these cabinets were more than a storage area for the eccentric odds of a collector.

outside doors of view 3

The items range from a bird house and miniature cannon, to a complete toilet set.  Each side of the cabinet is functional, gaming tables appear in hidden drawers, and religious paintings reveal personal worship items including a small porcelain ring painted with images inside the cylinder and out.  The interactive features allow the viewer to open drawers and remove covers, exposing these private items.

outside cover of cabinet 2

inside the Augsburg cabinet 2

mirrortoilet stand

The website requires a Flash player download, but is well worth the time to view these pieces and learn more about the history behind this cabinet.

The first story I want to share in this week’s cabinet comes from the Wall Street JournalJanet Stephens, hairdresser by day, intrepid researcher and historian by night, morphing into hairdo archaeologist.  Amateur scholarship, once frowned upon in academic circles, is now considered groundbreaking, as teaching methods and rote memorization of dates become learning styles of the past.

Roman Empress Julia Doman at the Walters Art Museum

Ms. Stephens’ story begins at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, where she observed the bust of Roman Empress Julia Domna.   The hairstyle amazed her, but recreating the gravity defying design proved a daunting task, and she turned to the history books for more information.  Dismissing the scholarly belief that these hairstyles were wigs, she discovered that sewing the braids together produced the correct results.  The rabbit hole of research revealed a Latin term, “acus” which was misapplied in the context of hairdressing.  The word has several meanings: a single prong hair pin or a needle and thread.

Ms. Stephens shared her research with the Journal of Roman Archaeology and was published in 2008.  The only other article published by the Journal by a non-scholar was written by a soldier who discovered an unknown Roman fort in Iraq.  Drawing on these practical experiences can break new ground in the field of research.  I am thrilled the view is changing to accept more research from unconventional sources.  Dismissing these research efforts does a disservice to the advancement of history in the modern day.

Tesla Letterhead

Nikola Tesla knew the value of his inventions, and the value of a dramatic letterhead to reflect these achievements.  A letter to JP Morgan, Esq. in 1916 commanded the attention of the famous financier and philanthropist.  The contents discussed the war and the manufacture of nitric acid through electrical processes, but the statement of the company through these images has a lasting legacy.  The page was shared by the Morgan Library and Museum, where a seemingly endless archive awaits the virtual tourist.

skylight of FLW house

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has furthered their pursuit of a virtual museum through short films at its new site, 82nd & Fifth.  Episode two offers an in depth view of the Frank Lloyd Wright house outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota.  A lake view home designed with open space far ahead of its early 20th century time frame.  Take a walk through the living area, feel the expanse of the room and the light flooding through floor to ceiling stained glass windows.  These two minute stories will be featured twice a week, expanding the vision of the Met through technology.

FLW living room

mount athos cross

The Athos Cross at the Courtland Museum is a technical virtuosity from the celebrated monastic community of Athos.  A center of miniature carving between the 16th and 18th centuries, the craft is still practiced by the monks of Athos today.  The perfect spelling of the inscriptions accompanying each scene suggests the cultured environment where the cross was produced.  Dated to the 18th century, the provenance has recently been revised because of the size, the added elements of the edges and the absence of metal, seeming to point to a 17th century date of execution.  Bequeathed to the Courtland in 1966, the cross did not go on display until 2012.  The cross is double sided, with a separate group of carvings represented on each, continuing a biblical story in chronological order.  The Courtland provides an interactive experience with this treasure, with each tiny scene filling the screen with detail and surprising depth.

raising of lazurus

A Paris apartment, untouched for 70 years, the treasures waiting like Sleeping Beauty to be discovered.  The owner, Miss de Florian, left Paris at the outbreak of WWII, never to return.  Seven decades later she passed away at the age of 91, her rent dutifully paid each month.  Her heirs left with the unenviable job of opening that door, revealing the time capsule.

Marthe de Florian

A further twist to the story is the discovery of this painting, a very important piece of art history, along with stacks of old love letters tied with ribbon.  The painting was by Giovanni Boldini, a member of the Belle Époque.  The woman in the picture is Ms. de Florian’s grandmother, Marthe de Florian, an actress and French socialite of the Belle Époque.  Despite Boldini being married, she was his muse and lover, the ribbon bound letters a testament of their relationship.

Time capsule apartment

Finding such a treasure after nearly a century is a collector’s dream, perhaps the family will publish the letters to put a final chapter to the story.

Lastly, I am excited to share a new show on Starz coming in April, Da Vinci’s Demons. The story is taken from the diaries of Da Vinci himself, and the cast of characters includes Lorenzo Medici, Giuliano Medici, Pope Sixtus IV, Clarice Orsini, Nicolo Machiavelli and Lucrezia Donati. An exciting prospect for the spring, don’t you agree?

My blog posts have diminished in the past two months due to my return to school to finish my degree. As my schedule reverted to a manageable level, I am able to continue with my first love, research and sharing information in this forum. Your patience, comments and follows are deeply appreciated.

Kind regards,

Mary Jo

outside doors of view 4

outside doors of view 3


Filed under February