In collaboration with the National Gallery of Art’s Department of Digital Experiences and Department of Modern Prints and Drawings, Dean Steven Nelson has initiated a digital project to catalyze research on the Index of American Design. Between 1935 and 1942, under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration, the U.S. government commissioned this compendium of over 18,000 watercolor paintings documenting works of folk, decorative, and industrial arts created throughout the United States. Today, the public's engagement with this collection enriches the National Gallery’s understanding of the Index as well as art historical research as a whole. Composed of thousands of light-sensitive works on paper, the collection cannot be physically exhibited in its entirety nor in perpetuity. The Center’s digital project will thus provide alternative methods through which scholars and the general public can connect with the Index, its histories, and the various artists who brought it to life.
Research is central to the mission of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts. In addition to the studies carried out by the professors and fellows in residence, each of the three deans undertakes a long-term project that is meant not only to advance scholarship, but also to serve as a resource for the discipline. Research associates, usually recent PhDs on term appointments, provide key support for these projects. The following represent some of the projects inaugurated since 1979.
Current Project Staff
Peter M. Lukehart Therese O’Malley Steven Nelson
Lauren Taylor Matthew J. Westerby Fulvia Zaninelli
Current Research Projects
Charlotte Winter, Arlene Perkins, Applique Bedspread, c. 1941, watercolor and gouache over graphite on paperboard, Index of American Design, 1943.8.2589
Thomas Chambers, Mount Auburn Cemetery, mid 19th century, oil on canvas, Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, 1958.5.1
Directed by Former Associate Dean Therese O’Malley, this project centers on the History of Early American Landscape Design (heald.nga.gov), a digital resource tracing the development of landscape and garden terminology. It makes available thousands of texts and images and offers an extensively cross-referenced compendium of information on the social and geographical history of landscape design in early American history. It follows and expands on Keywords in American Landscape Design (2010).
Pierfrancesco Alberti, A Painter’s Academy, c. 1625, detail. Research Library, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, California (2007.PR.29)
Directed by Associate Dean Peter Lukehart, The History of the Accademia di San Luca, c. 1590-1635 (www.nga.gov/accademia) publishes and examines archival documents and other research materials concerning one of the first artists’ academies in Europe. These resources document the breadth of activities and interests across the city of Rome and beyond, examining the affairs of the people who ran or supported the Academy and the places where they interacted. A companion volume of interpretive essays was published in 2010, The Accademia Seminars: The Accademia di San Luca in Rome, c. 1590–1635.
Past Research Projects
Early Modern Sources in Translation: Carlo Cesare Malvasia’s Felsina pittrice
Marcantonio Raimondi, Raphael, The Massacre of the Innocents, c. 1511, engraving, Print Purchase Fund (Rosenwald Collection), 1975.54.1
The Felsina pittrice (1678) is one of the most important early modern texts on Italian art, yet it lacks a modern critical edition and full English translation. A team of scholars led by Dean Emerita Elizabeth Cropper and Professor Lorenzo Pericolo (University of Warwick) is producing a richly illustrated multivolume edition of the Italian text and associated preparatory notes, together with an annotated English translation. Volume 1, devoted to the art of late medieval Bologna, appeared in 2012. Volume 13, on the lives of Domenichino and Francesco Gessi, was published in 2013. Published in 2017, volume 2, part 2 (2 vols.), features the life of Marcantonio Raimondi but also includes the most detailed catalogueof prints published in Europe before the eighteenth century.
Guide to Documentary Sources for Andean Studies, 1530–1900
Overseer with quipucamayo of an Inca storehouse. From Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, Nueva corónica y buen gobierno, 1936 (c. 1615), p. 335. Royal Library of Denmark
This project was directed by Joanne Pillsbury, formerly assistant dean of the Center and now Andrall E. Pearson Curator in the department of the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The three-volume reference work, published in 2008, supports research on the pre-Hispanic, viceregal, and early republican periods of the Andean region of South America. The work is intended for scholars in anthropology, history, archaeology, art history, and related disciplines. It includes 29 thematic essays and 186 biographical and bibliographical entries reflecting contributions from 125 scholars in 19 countries. Copublished by the National Gallery of Art and the University of Oklahoma Press, the guide addresses key texts of the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries concerning the region defined by the extent of the Inca Empire (modern Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and parts of Colombia, Argentina, and Chile).
A Spanish translation (Las Fuentes documentales para los estudios andinos, 1530-1900) was copublished with the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in 2016.
Architectural Drawings Advisory Group / Foundation for Documents of Architecture
Claude Gillot, Studies of Ornament and Architecture, c. 1710, pen and brown ink over traces of graphite on laid paper, Woodner Collection, Gift of Andrea Woodner, 2006.11.13.b
In 1983 the Center convened an international group of architectural drawings specialists representing major repositories in North America and Europe to build consensus concerning cataloguing standards for architectural drawings. ADAG explored how a network might be established to apply guidelines for descriptive cataloguing in both electronic and printed form. In 1986 the Foundation for Documents of Architecture (FDA), a nonprofit corporation, was founded by several ADAG members to promote ADAG’s recommendations in an automated cataloguing environment and to translate ADAG’s recommended standards into published guidelines. In 1994 ADAG and the FDA published A Guide to the Description of Architectural Drawings by Vicki Porter and Robin Thornes with G. K. Hall & Company on behalf of the Getty Art History Information Program. Henry A. Millon initiated and led ADAG and also served as president of the FDA (1986–1992).
The Italian Architectural Drawings Project Collection (IADPC)
Attributed to Pietro Righini, scenography. London, The British Museum, © The Trustees of the British Museum
The Italian Architectural Drawings Photograph Collection (IADPC) was assembled under the direction of the Center’s founding dean, Henry A. Millon, for the photographic archives of the National Gallery of Art Library. The collection of approximately 45,000 photographs and 350 manuscripts on microfilm documents drawings made before 1800 of Italian architecture from repositories around the world. The artists and draftsmen who produced these drawings are not exclusively Italian, but come from throughout Europe. The architectural drawings fall into various categories, such as working, project, and presentation drawings; views, panoramas, travel sketches, treatises, architectural details, and architectural ornament. Also included are drawings from related fields in which the influence of architecture is pronounced and where the designers frequently were architects, for example shipbuilding, carriage and furniture design, and gold and silverware. The IADPC photographs may be consulted by scholars in the National Gallery of Art Library department of image collections.