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The House of Barnes: The Man, The Collection, The Controversy (Memoir Vol. 266)
The House of Barnes: The Man, The Collection, The Controversy is a beautifully written study of the extraordinary art collector and volatile personality Albert C. Barnes. The book places him in the context of his own era, shedding new light on the ideas and movements (about art collecting, education, and aesthetics) that shaped so much of his thinking.
The Barnes’ major holdings of largely post-impressionist art include more than 800 paintings, with a strong focus on Renoir (181 canvases), Cézanne (69), Matisse (59), and Picasso (46 paintings and drawings). In its entirety, it is the greatest single collection of such art that has remained intact.
The last chapters of the book address the controversial events surrounding the Barnes Foundation’s move to Philadelphia, including vehement opposition—as well as strong support. There is an analysis of the Foundation’s financial plight, a review of the major court cases over the decades, and a characterization of the fervent reactions following the court’s decision to allow the move to take place.
The monograph is recommended for a broad audience, including those interested in art and art collecting, the role of art in education, and the development of cultural institutions.
Astronomy in the Maya Codices: Memoirs Vol. 265
The Precolumbian Maya were closely attuned to the movements of the Sun and the Moon, the stars and the planets. Their rituals and daily tasks were performed according to a timetable established by these celestial bodies, a timetable based on a highly complex calendar system. Agriculture provided the foundation for their civilization, and the skies served as a kind of farmer’s almanac for when to plant and when to harvest. In this remarkable volume, noted Maya scholars Harvey Bricker and Victoria Bricker offer invaluable insight into the complex world of the Precolumbian Maya, and in particular the amazing achievements of Maya astronomy, as revealed in the Maya codices the indigenous hieroglyphic books written before the Spanish Conquest. This far-reaching study confirms that, independent of the Old World traditions that gave rise to modern Western astronomy, the Precolumbian Maya achieved a sophisticated knowledge of astronomy based on observations recorded over centuries. Illus.
Visual Mechanic Knowledge: The Workshop Drawings of Isaac Ebenezer Markham (1795-1825), New England Textile Mechanic: Memoirs, APS (Vol. 263)
Markham's 60 or so drawings are the earliest-known set of textile machine maker’s workshop drawings in the U.S. prepared primarily for cotton machinery but also for wool carding and spinning equipment. Nothing similar has survived from the antebellum decades. Prepared between 1814 and 1825, a collection of such significance requires an examination of its provenance, a biography of the draftsman, and an analysis of the historical contexts shaping both draftsman and drawings. This marvelous book fulfills all of these goals. Markham’s drawings are evidence of the transition from preindustrial to industrial visual forms of technical knowledge, and of a much wider knowledge revolution in the U.S. The drawings also demonstrate the ubiquity of inventiveness, even in the most remote of early machine shops, at the extremity of the well-known American and transatlantic mechanic networks. Includes b-&-w illus. and 11 color plates.
Polar Hayes: The Life and Contributions of Isaac Israel Hayes, M.D.
In the mid-19th century as an ambitious young country expanded its horizons westward, Dr. Isaac Israel Hayes, a young physician from an Orthodox Quaker family in the rural farmland of Pennsylvania, turned his eyes to the North. As a member of the harrowing American arctic expedition under the command of Dr. Elisha Kent Kane in search of the lost British explorer Sir John Franklin, Hayes became obsessed with making his own mark in the far northern polar regions. He organized his own privately funded voyage to the Arctic in 1860, during which he claimed to have reached a ‘farthest north’ and to have stood on the edge of the fabled “Open Polar Sea,” a mythical ice-free zone in the high northern latitudes. Through his own hard fought experiences, combined with the knowledge learned from native Greenlanders or Polar Eskimos, he successfully influenced the course of Arctic discovery, causing perceptive explorers to follow his guidance and lead. Directing the same ambition to humanitarian and social causes, during the devastating U.S. Civil War and as an elected politician in New York State during its Gilded Age, Hayes served the ‘public good’ for a decade, with accomplishments as far reaching as his Arctic service, but little recognized even during his lifetime. In this book, which draws upon Hayes family papers, the little viewed diaries from Hayes’s own expeditions, as well as other unpublished primary sources, the story emerges of a remarkable but forgotten explorer, writer, politician, and humanitarian who epitomized the rugged and restless spirit of adventure and individualism of 19th-century America. Illus.
Peter Collinson and the Eighteenth-Century Natural History Exchange (Memoir 264)
Collinson’s life is a microcosm of 18th-cent. natural history. A gardener and naturalist by avocation, he was what we would now call a facilitator in natural science, disseminating botanical and horticultural knowledge during the Enlightenment. He influenced the Comte de Buffon and Linnaeus. He found clients for the Phila. naturalist John Bartram. American plants populated great estates like those of the Dukes of Richmond, Norfolk, and Bedford, as well as the Chelsea Physic Garden, and the nurseries of James Gordon and Robert Furber. Botanic painters such as Mark Catesby and Georg Dionysius Ehret painted American plants in Collinson’s garden. He had an unprecedented effect on the exchange of scientific info. on both sides of the Atlantic. Illus.
Alexander the Great: Coinage, Finances, and Policy (Memoirs Vol. 261)
This English translation of Le Rider’s study of the coinage and financial policy of Alexander the Great brings the magisterial scholarship of one of the world’s greatest living numismatists before an Anglophone public. For more than 40 years Le Rider has published fundamental studies on the coinages of the ancient Middle East and eastern Mediterranean world, particularly from the time of Philip II (Alexander’s father), and Alexander himself. Throughout his career Le Rider has demonstrated a rare ability to combine the meticulous analysis of coins with interpretations that convey the historical significance of the finds. This study draws the reader from detailed analysis and scholarly controversy into a compelling evocation of a pragmatic world conqueror. Illus.
Passion of George Sarton: A Modern Marriage and its Discipline (Memoir 260)
George Sarton animated the discipline of history of science (HoS) in America. This vol. traces his youth & educ. in Belgium, & his marriage to Mabel Elwes. It follows the Sarton’s in their path from idealistic refugees fleeing the invasion of Belgium in 1914 to destitute intellectuals at Harvard Univ. For 50 years, HoS as an acad. specialty owed much to Sarton’s visions & anxieties, esp. as they were expressed in his marriage. Mabel Sarton sustained his enterprise & contributed to its form, which included parts of socialism, pacifism, aesthetics, & faith. Themes present in Sarton’s early work include the common endeavor of artists & scientists, the private nature of scientific innovation, & the HoS as a bridge between the humanities & the natural sciences. Illus.
Temple of Night at Schonau: Architecture, Music, & Theater in a Late Eighteenth-Century Viennese Garden ( APS Memoir Vol. 258)
Between 1796 & 1800 Baron Peter von Braun, a rich businessman & manager of Vienna’s court theaters, transformed his estate at Schonau into an English-style landscape park. The most celebrated building was the Temple of Night, a domed rotunda accessible only through a meandering rockwork grotto. A life-size statue of the goddess Night on a chariot pulled by two horses presided over the Temple, while from the dome, came the sounds of a mechanical musical instrument. Only the ruins survive, & the Temple has received little scholarly attention. This book brings it back to life by assembling the descriptions of it by early 19th-cent. eyewitnesses. “Will appeal to anyone interested in the history of garden design, arch., theater, & music.” Illus.
Renaissance Vision from Spectacles to Telescopes (Memoir 259)
This book deals with the history of eyeglasses from their invention in Italy ca. 1286 to the appearance of the telescope three centuries later. “By the end of the 16th century eyeglasses were as common in western & central Europe as desktop computers are in western developed countries today.” Eyeglasses served an important technological function at both the intellectual & practical level, not only easing the textual studies of scholars but also easing the work of craftsmen/small businessmen. An important subthesis of this book is that Florence, rather than Venice, seems to have dominated the commercial market for eyeglasses during the 15th century, when two crucial developments occurred: the ability to grind convex lenses for various levels of presbyopia & the ability to grind concave lenses for the correction of myopia. As a result, eyeglasses could be made almost to prescription by the early 17th century. illus.
The Library of Benjamin Franklin (Memoir 257)
Beginning in the late 1950s, Edwin Wolf 2nd embarked on a bibliographic odyssey to reconstruct the “lost” library of Benjamin Franklin. Franklin’s library, the largest and best private library at the time of his death in 1790, was sold by his grandson in the last eighteenth century to Robert Morris Jr., who subsequently sold it in the early nineteenth century. None of the catalogs of the collection survive, and the contents of the library were virtually unknown until 1956, when Wolf discovered the unique shelfmarks Franklin used to identify his books. Wolf’s work to reconstruct a catalog of the library continued for the next thirty years but was unfinished at the time of his death. As the tercentenary of Franklin’s birth approached, Kevin J. Hayes took up the work and has continued to discover titles that were part of the library. Everything found to date, close to 4,000 entries, has been compiled here. (Philadelphia: The American Philosophical Society and the Library Company of Philadelphia, 2006.)
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