subscribe: Posts | Comments

Foundlabs Conversation: French Drawings from 1500-1800

Foundlabs Conversation: French Drawings from 1500-1800

The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. is running a show called “Renaissance to Revolution: French Drawings from the National Gallery of Art, 1500-1800″ from October 1, 2009 to January 31, 2010. I had the enormous opportunity to talk to Margaret Morgan Grasselli, the curator in charge of putting the whole show together.

Part 1: 16th and 17th Centuries

Part 2: 18th Century

As a quick summary, in editing the video for the interview, I found it very hard to condense three centuries into less than 15 minutes. And to further condense, I will say that it is interesting that the French art in this period is strongly delineated in terms of a political timeline, that a king in the 16th century very consciously kicked off an artistic movement by inviting established Italian artists to France. As the kings changed, so too did the art, such that the art that would glorify kings became more ornate and “French.” Finally, as France moved toward revolution (beginning in 1789), the art also reflected that of the people aesthetic, with neoclassicism.

The exhibit is great– go see it if you are in D.C. before the end of January 2010.

For more on the events that occurred during this period in France, the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art.

Historical Photographs

Historical Photographs

The Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress offers an incredible selection of online prints and photographs for those interested in a peek at the past. In addition to just having the images, they also offer a description of where and how. Here’s a description of “First Flight” photograph from the Wright Brothers collection as an example:

Wright Brothers

The most well known negative is, of course, that showing the “First Flight” at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903. The brothers had arranged to have John T. Daniels of the Kill Devil Life-Saving Station, who was among the spectators, snap their camera for them just at the moment the machine had reached the end of the take-off rail and had risen two feet into the air. Before attempting the flight, Orville had placed the camera on a tripod and had aimed it at a point he hoped the machine would attain when it left the track . The shot was successful and the negative was developed by Orville on his return to Dayton. (

The the Print and Photograph Division is also really helpful in that they let you download the image in either jpeg or tiff, in varying qualities. And if you’re really crazy about the image, you can buy a print of it, too.

Now, aside from all of that helpfulness, think about this: you are seeing an image of the first flight!

In the world!

I find it very interesting that there is almost nothing else in the picture– no trees, no buildings, no other planes (obviously), and nothing else. Granted, they picked Kitty Hawk for those features, but it really emphasizes the two men and what is really a pretty primitive– but brilliant– device.

Kinda makes me want to build something.

Library of Congress Prints & Photographs