Sunday, February 23, 2014

Streaming video from Alexander Street Press

The recent (January 9, 2014) blog post on the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music ebook highlighted just one of the many exciting content enhancements to our electronic database subscription of Alexander Street Press.

Also new and noteworthy to Alexander is the inclusion of video content. This film content is located from the homepage → Elibrary → Videos

When you have opened this link you will find the three titles Classical Music in Video, Dance in Video and Opera in Video at the bottom of the page.

The content of these databases can also be found in our library catalog.  By limiting by "material type" you can specify that you only wish to view eVideo content.

When you view the results of a search, you can identify this content by its "eVideo" icon.
Each of the three databases contains approximately 500 hours of video each totaling 1500 hours combined.  While the scope is limited when compared to the infinite offerings of user-generated sites like Youtube, the Music Online database does have strong advantages:

The digital video content has been handled in a consistent manner by Alexander Street, offering a uniformity in quality. The streaming video, which typically looks great on small devices and good on larger computer and television devices, has been compressed for fast delivery without compromising the excellent sound quality. The content itself has been carefully curated to offer the best of the best.

These databases are excellent musical discovery and learning tools for individuals, interest groups and classroom teachers. They include not only performances but also interviews with practitioners and technical instruction (Dance in Video).  For instance, here is a link to instructional videos:

By establishing your own login and account, you can create playlists and embed links to all manner of specific musical content, including for example, an exact 28 second excerpt of a performance.

The San Francisco Symphony will be performing Mahler’s Third Symphony in this weekend. Using the Classical Music in Video database, one could watch the entire performance or could quickly share a prepared clip of the fifth movement by linking to

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Who Owns (or Owned) This Painting?

Finding the ownership of a famous artwork, while a common query, is not always easily accomplished.  Some works are owned by public institutions, others by private entities and individuals.  Even when a work is publicly owned, there is not always indexing or documentation for its whereabouts.

An individual’s reasons for wanting to know, who owns a given artwork can vary from simply wanting to visit and view the artwork in-person to wanting to establish the copyright for the purpose of reproducing the work. In both of these instances the individual is interested in who or what institution owns the artwork now.

A much more complicated form of ownership research goes into the work of provenance.  This aims to not only document who owns the work now, but who are all the past owners of a particular artwork, ideally tracing a direct line from the artist’s hands to each consecutive owner, therefore proving that the work is an original. In the case of the most renowned artists, this task is often accomplished detailed in a catalogue raisonné.

Tracing such ownership can be a complicated process as artworks transfer between private hands and public institutions, but the following library resources, websites and research strategies may serve as a guide:

Strategy 1-- Locate the work in the permanent collection of a museum or gallery using resources such as the free website or the library’s online subscription database CAMIO, Catalog of Art Museum Images Online. You will need your library card and PIN to sign in.

Strategy 2 -- Consult reputable research institutions known for their provenance resources such as The Frick Collection and The Getty Research Institute.

Strategy 3 -- The Benezit Dictionary of Artists also includes information about holdings in museum collections and historical auction results.

Strategy 4 -- Consult our library’s collection of cumulative auction listings such as Davenport's Art Reference and Price Guide and Art Sales Index, to find possible sale date and auction house.  Buyers will not be listed but might be obtained by contacting the auction house. Also visiting the individual auction houses such as Christie's, Sotheby's, and Bonhams online, one can usually access at least a decade’s worth of auction results. Many list a painting’s full provenance up until the date of the sale.

Strategy 5 -- Find an image of the artwork in a printed book. Usually the book's text or description of the image plate will include the artwork’s copyright holder at the time of the printing. To find such printed works consult Havlice’s World Painting Index or a catalogue raisonne of the artist.

Finally, internet searches and use of the library’s online subscription databases (such as JSTOR and Wilson Art Full Text) should also be consulted.

Earlier blog entry:

Benezit in English? C'est Vrai! - July 3, 2007.

A reproduction of "Banks of a River" by Jacob Ruysdael, in A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters by John Smith.  Owned by National Galleries Scotland.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Reader's Guide to Modern Art (1914)

We are coming upon the 2015 centennial of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.  In 1914, a small printed guide to art of the Exposition was published, entitled A Reader's Guide To Modern Art.  It was a forty page bibliography to prepare visitors to the art galleries of the PPIE compiled by Robert Bartholow Harshe, an assistant chief in the fine arts department for the Exposition.

Robert B. Harshe, Assistant Chief of the Department of Fine Arts of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, has compiled in a systematized index the accessible bibliographical material dealing with modern art and artist. ¶ While this guide was put together primarily as an idnex to the artists represented in the Palace of Fine Arts and Exposition it is also a compact review of modern art.  A skeleton outline is sketched of the art epochs in each country, becoming broader and more detailed as the art of the last ten years is reached. ¶ This guide is indispensable to all libraries, and all clubs which study art.  It is also of the utmost interest and value to lovers of art, who wish to supplement their appreciation with a fund of knowledge.  It will be particularly useful to all those who are no studying the great exhibition in San Francisco. (source: A Brief Guide to the Department of Fine Arts by Michael Williams).

According to Edan Hughes' Artists in California, Harshe only lived in Northern California for a short time, from 1908 to 1916, but was an active figure while he was here.  We was the co-founder and first president of the California Society of Etchers the predecessor of the California Society of Printmakers) in 1913.  He also was an assistant professor of fine arts at Stanford University.  Who's Who In American Art also noted that he was director of the Oakland Museum during 1915-1916.  He finished his career at the Art Institute of Chicago where he was director from 1921 until his death in 1938.  In addition to work in art administration and education he was also a painter and etcher.

 "Dutch Cottage," an etching by Robert Bartholow Harshe (from Art and Progress vol. 4, no. 7 (May 1913))

From 1911 Robert B. Harshe served as a temporary director of the Fine Arts department of the PPIE.  He first secured loans of works from the East Coast museums and collectors.  That December he traveled to Europe where he visited art galleries and museums looking for contemporary art to exhibit in San Francisco.  It was recalled in his obituary that:
During the course of its assembling [the exhibit], Mr. Harshe visited Europe and in spite of tremendous problems which daily faced him in securing loans and in getting them transported to America, succeeded in bringing many of the finest contemporary European works to San Francisco.  For the same exposition he served as secretary of the International Jury of awards ... 
As an assistant chief of the Fine Arts Department he was responsible for the exhibition of Arts and Crafts at the PPIE.
Do you receive the publications of the Department of FIne Arts of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition?  If not, send your name to Dr. Robert B. Harshe, Exposition Building, San Francisco, Cal.  You ought to keep posted about what is taking place out there in the realm of arts and crafts. (The School Arts Magazine vol. 14, no. 4 (December 1914)
Even at one hundred years' old A Reader's Guide to Modern Art is more than a curiosity for us today.  For one thing, this thin reference predates the Art Index (first publishing in 1929).  Secondly, it helps the researcher of today understand how contemporary art was understood through popular books and periodicals of the time.

Nearly half of the book is devoted to artists and time periods of American art.  The rest of the book consists of citations to books and articles about art of Austria, Belgium, China and Japan, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.  The magazines indexed include Architectural Record, Arts and Decoration, Art Journal, The Century, Chautaquan, Delineator, Good Housekeeping, Harper's Weekly, Harper's Magazine, International Studio, Magazine of Art, New England Magazine, Review of Reviews, and Scribner's Monthly.

A Reader's Guide to Modern Art, compiled by Robert B. Harshe (The Wahlgreen company [official publishers to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition], 1914).

"Great Art Exhibit for Exposition: Professor Harshe to Go to Europe in Search of Treasures," San Francisco Chronicle (September 13, 1911). [in the San Francisco Chronicle Historical database].

Robert B. Harshe, "The California Society of Etchers," Art in California; Survey of American Art with Special Reference to Californian Painting, Sculpture and Architecture Past and Present, Particularly as Those Arts Were Represented at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (R. L. Bernier, 1916).

"Robert B. Harshe," Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, Vol. 32, No. 4, Part I (Apr.-May, 1938), 48-51. [in JStor]

Edan Milton Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940 by Edan Milton Hughes (Crocker Art Museum, 2002).

"The Panama Exposition," Art and Progress Vol. 2, No. 11 (September, 1911), 337-33.
Who's Who in American Art, volume 1 (R.R. Bowker, 1936-7). [in JStor].

Michael Williams, A Brief Guide to the Department of Fine Arts (Wahlgreen Co., 1915).

Michael Williams, "Arts and Crafts at the Panama-Pacific," Art and Progress Vol. 6, No. 10, Special Exposition Number (Aug., 1915), pp. 374-378. [In JStor].