Postcards have always been a popular souvenir and a fun way to send a quick message home while on vacation. Often depicting famous buildings or landscapes, The National Trust Library Historic Postcard Collection suggests that “these postcards also provide unique evidence of the evolution in American architecture, with rare glimpses of buildings or places that may no longer exist or have dramatically altered over time.”
Through the publishing house Octavo, the Rare Book Room currently has over 400 digitized books available to read online. Many of the books are beautiful examples of the histories of print design, typography, and illustration.
You can search by subject such as literature (where you will find Shakespeare’s work), graphic arts (including a work by Bodoni), music (mostly Beethoven and Mozart), or photography (the Pennsylvania Railroad Photographs from the 1870s are here).
Many of the libraries that hold the original materials are right here in Philadelphia! In the drop-down menu for Find by Library, check out The American Antiquarian Society, The American Philosophical Society, the Ewell Sale Stewart Library of the Academy of Natural Sciences, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, The Library Company of Philadelphia, the Rosenbach Museum & Library, and the University of Pennsylvania Library.
Please note that you will have to allow pop-ups on your web browser to use the site.
The Getty Research Institute‘s mission “is dedicated to furthering knowledge and advancing understanding of the visual arts.” To meet this goal, the Institute has many digital collections, including images of art, architecture, photography, and primary sources such as artists’ letters.
The Institute also has a Photo Study Collection of about a million of its photographs available online. The Collection acts as a reference tool for studying antiquities and Western art.
At the end of this month, GRI will launch the Getty Research Portal, “a free online search platform providing global access to digitized art history texts in the public domain.” These digitized art books will provide easy access to critical scholarship. Stay tuned to learn more!
Alphonse Maria Mucha was a Czech painter in the late 1800s. He is best known for his French Art Nouveau style illustrations for theatrical posters. The Mucha Foundation was established in 1992 and is devoted to teaching and sharing his art.
The Foundation’s website is an excellent source of reading and imagery about Mucha. The Timeline section places Mucha in political and cultural contexts. The Gallery has over 300 works available for online viewing. Browse all the works or by themes. For fun, there are Color Your Own Mucha downloadable pdfs.
Paleo Art, from the Smithsonian Institution, highlights beautiful illustrations used to explore and preserve natural specimens from the Paleontological period. This website demonstrates the importance of drawing to the field of paleobiology.
There are three sections to Paleo Art. Historical Art is the collection of illustrations. Working with fossils and other fragile specimens, detailed drawings of the specimens allow scientists and historians to review objects that cannot easily be handled or photographed. Illustrations depict everything from dinosaurs to shrimp. Illustration Care provides an overview of how the Smithsonian preserves and maintains these important documents. Illustration Techniques explains how to become a paleontological illustrator and why illustrations can be more useful to scientists than photographs.
Not only is this a beautifully produced and lavishly illustrated book: its subject, Hugh J. Ward, is a UArts alumnus who attended the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art (today’s UArts College of Art and Design) from 1927-1930. The author, David Saunders, made extensive use of the University of the Arts archives, including a visit to look at the materials himself.
Following his work as a cartoonist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Ward made his mark as an illustrator of pulp magazines and fiction. In addition to work for magazines such as Super-Detective, Spicy-Adventure Stories, Mystery Adventures (“Exotic – Peppy- Exciting”), Spicy Western Stories, and Spicy Mystery Stories, all of which usually featured scantily-clad damsels in distress, Ward illustrated The Lone Ranger and Green Hornet comic books, and created the first full-color image of Superman for the radio show, The Adventures of Superman (see pp. 159-165). Library Journal says that’ “Saunders’s gangbusters volume will knock the socks off pulp-art fans.”
The International Children’s Digital Library website is designed for use by children, but that is no reason not to explore these excellent examples of illustration and design. The library contains children’s books from around the world and in dozens of languages. You can search by illustrator, author, subject, or even browse by book jacket color. The initial book page shows you the entire text layout so you can select only illustrated pages to view larger, if you choose.