James Hall Nasmyth (1808-1890), a Scottish inventor and engineer, is best known for his development of the steam hammer. After his success in engineering and industry, Nasmyth retired and spent his later life pursuing the hobby of amateur astronomy. He moved to Kent and built a 20 inch reflecting telescope, made detailed observations of the Moon, and eventually in 1874, he published a book titled The Moon: Considered as a Planet, a World, and a Satellite. This wonderful volume is illustrated with photographs (woodburytypes) and a copy is housed in the rare book collection in The Richard and Ronay Menschel Library at George Eastman House. The book was published to demonstrate the origin of certain mountain ranges on the Moon through erosion and age. Nasmyth and co-author James Carpenter believed that Lunar mountains were the result of volcanic activity, a theory that was later disproved. Continue Reading »
George Eastman House is known for its rich and diverse photography collection, but often it is only the “greatest hits” that get seen by the general public. One of the perks of working at Eastman House is getting to see photographs that might never make it into the Best of exhibitions. I want to share some of these treasures here.
The Photography Collection holds approximately 200 works by Alfred Stieglitz; a collection that is much requested for loan, exhibition and research. Within this mix of iconic photographs of George O’Keeffe’s hands and images of Lake George is a small collection of lantern slides that Stieglitz made to illustrate lectures.
We (Allan Phoenix and Fran Cullen) both began our careers at George Eastman House as students enrolled in the unique Photographic Preservation and Collections Management Master of Arts program, offered jointly by GEH and Ryerson University (of Toronto). Subsequent to graduation we joined the GEH staff to work on a year-long digitization and cataloging project for ARTstor, which is a nonprofit online database of art images designed to aid in research and scholarship by providing access to this and other collections.
I am a native Rochesterian and a University of Toronto graduate interested in, among other things, film history, celebrity portraiture, and (of course) photo preservation. Although neither of us began the project with any designated specialization, over the past several months I have fallen into the role of ARTstor cataloger. The most substantial of my projects thus far has involved the cataloging of GEHâ€™s entire collection of Animal Locomotion plates.
Eadweard Muybridge conducted the motion studies reproduced on these pages from 1884-87. I must confess that the most entertaining aspect of cataloging the images involved extensive imaginings about the environment of Muybridgeâ€™s set when he asked his models repeatedly to enact a variety of tasks – traversing a set of set of stairs carrying different objects; hopping on one foot; dumping water over one-anotherâ€™s heads â€“ predominantly in the nude.
I am Canadian! Most recently I hail from Guelph, Ontario, where I completed my undergraduate degree in European Studies before embarking on my Masterâ€™s degree at Ryerson University in Toronto. Prior to that my career included commercial photographerâ€™s assistant, theatre sound and lighting technician as well as being a freelance Key and Dolly grip in the film and TV industry.
At present, I am scanning a large collection of eight by ten proof and presentation prints by Nickolas Muray. Primarily made from the 1920s onward, these photographs are portraits of artists, celebrities and intellectuals living in the US during this time. Muray was a fascinating character who not only was an accomplished photographer and printer, but also a dance critic and Olympic fencer as well; he was as much a participant in the New York artistic and intellectual scene as documenting it.
In ensuing episodes of this blog, we intend to document snapshots of our experiences with the ARTstor digitization project, recording our observations and ruminations about the photographs with which we work. We hope that you will find the images and anecdotes as interesting as we do. Enjoy these glimpses â€œbehind the curtainâ€ at a small portion of the work occurring in the far back corner of the photo collection!
About our headshots: These images, featuring our respective profiles, were created by Anna Michas, Mirasol Estrada, and Alejandra Mendoza of the Advanced Residency Program in conservation at George Eastman House. They were made using a technique inspired by Laszlo Moholy-Nagyâ€™s photograms.