The van Otterloo Collection, currently on deposit at the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum, is an extensive assemblage of books, serials, and articles about the art and history of the Low Countries. The collection was once owned by an art historian whose library was called “one of the most comprehensive personal libraries on Dutch and Flemish art in existence.” In October 2014, a team from Backstage Library Works began cataloging and processing each item. As of August 15, 2015, over 17,000 items have been processed for the collection, including nearly 2,000 art auction catalogs and 295 books published before 1800. Two months remain on the project. Here are a few gems chosen from the collection’s extensive holdings so far.
Thomas Hart Benton, The Lost Hunting Ground, 1927-28. From the mural series American Historical Epic, 1920-28. Oil on canvas, 60 1/4 x 42 1/8 in. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Bequest of the artist. Photo by Jamison Miller. © Benton Testamentary Trusts/UMB Bank Trustee/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.
The following is a condensed and edited conversation that took place inside the galleries of PEM’s American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood exhibition Thursday, August 6 with PEM’s Curator of American Art Austen Barron Bailly, Curator of Native American Art Karen Kramer and those who participated in the museum’s summer fellowship program for Native Americans pursuing professional museum studies. The 2015 fellows are: Halena Kapuni-Reynolds, Alex Nahwegabow, Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu and Jordan Dresser. The Benton exhibition closes September 7. Read more
In the 17th and 18th centuries, ships large and small carried Europeans from the British Isles, European colonists and American natives from the Eastern Seaboard and the West Indies, Africans from the slave forts, and all sorts of goods across and around the Atlantic and Caribbean, as a British Atlantic empire grew in population, wealth, and exploitation. The ships were the principal technology and most complex and expensive machines of their world—in fact they made that world possible, and thus in time made our own world possible. But in the general course of maritime technological history, the merchant ships of the Atlantic World have not been the subject of much attention, either popular or academic. From a macro perspective, they are considered rather static technology, treading water or marking time between the development of the ocean-going European ship of the late 1400s and the viable steamship and “clipper ship” of the 19th century. But given the dynamism of the British Atlantic World between its tentative establishment and its commercial re-integration after the American Revolution, it is difficult to believe that this core technology was indeed static; perhaps an examination of the continuity and change in British Atlantic ship technology has something to teach us about how this world worked, how technology works in human society, and how our ability to design and build ocean-going watercraft has evolved.