The National Gallery of Art, Washington recently opened America Collects Eighteenth-Century French Painting, an exhibition that serves as the first survey of American taste for French 18th-century painting. It features 68 of the finest examples found in American museums today and tells the story of the collectors, curators, museum directors, and dealers responsible for bringing the paintings across the Atlantic and into the collections they now call home.
The accompanying catalog features 11 essays by an esteemed group of scholars, an extensive exhibition checklist with new provenance information, and an illustrated chronology. Also, the Gallery just released a new Online Edition in conjunction with the exhibition: the NGA Online Editions series, Focus Section – French Paintings of the Eighteenth Century.
The web-based Online Editions series is part of an ongoing effort to digitize and provide open access to the Gallery’s permanent collection catalogs and will eventually document more than 5,000 works of painting, sculpture, and decorative arts. Focus Section – French Paintings of the Eighteenth Century provides rich scholarly content including essays devoted to 20 paintings and their four related artists’ biographies. Like other Online Editions, this iteration provides free and open access to illustrated scholarly entries, biographies of the artists, and technical summaries.
Other highlights of the features available to researchers include:
- A customized reading environment: An adjustable split-screen “reader mode” allows users to view scholarly text alongside images, notes, and comparative figures or to view them in line with the text.
- Compare and explore images: An image-comparison tool enables users to view primary and comparative images side by side or to explore technical images via overlay and cross-fading techniques.
- Ease of research: The Online Editions toolbar provides pre-formatted citations for an object or biography, easy export, and quick access to archived pages.
- Archived versions and permanent URLs: Immediate access to PDFs of earlier versions and the assurance of permanent web addresses are a convenience to students and scholars alike.
- Enhanced search capabilities: An interactive search index is driven by an evolving list of terms particular to each area of the collection.
The NGA Online Editions series presents the same authoritative, peer-reviewed scholarship found within the Gallery’s bound volumes but enriched with customized tools for a more dynamic research experience.
(The content of this piece was provided by Isabella Bulkeley).