Esther Boise Van Deman: An Archaeologist's Eye - Images from the Van Deman Collection of the Photographic Archive, American Academy in Rome

Graduate Center Art Gallery Features Pioneering Woman Archeologist/Photographer

Historic Images from American Academy in Rome Photographic Archive



Images of ancient and early 20th-century Rome as seen through the eyes of a pioneering woman archeologist and photographer will be featured in an upcoming exhibition in the Art Gallery of The Graduate Center, City University of New York. Esther Boise Van Deman: An Archaeologist's Eye -- Images from the Photographic Archive, American Academy in Rome, will be shown from December 6, 2001, through January 18, 2002. The free exhibition can be seen Tuesdays through Fridays from noon to 6 pm, and informal gallery talks will be presented on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. The Graduate Center is located at 365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street in Manhattan.

Esther Boise Van Deman (1862-1937) was the first American woman to achieve recognition in the field of Roman archeology. A self-taught photographer, she utilized the medium to assist her research and illustrate her pioneering articles and books on building techniques and aqueducts. Born in Ohio in 1862, she received her Ph.D. in Latin from the University of Chicago in 1898. After teaching at Mount Holyoke College, she went to Rome in 1901 to study at the American School of Classical Studies, now the American Academy in Rome. She spent most of the rest of her professional career in Rome, where she died in 1937. She left her study archive of more than 2700 negatives and vintage prints to the American Academy in Rome. The Academy -- which has an extensive archive of historic photographs -- has loaned selected images from the Van Deman collection to The Graduate Center for this exhibition.

In addition to recording monuments and sites of rare historic interest, the ninety images in this exhibition document Van Deman's travel in Italy and North Africa, her participation in the international scholarly community of Rome, and her fascination with contemporaneous urban and provincial life. Seventy-two of the images were printed on barite-coated bromide paper from the original cellulose nitrate negatives. The remainder were printed from duplicate negatives.

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated brochure with an essay by Alessandra Capodiferro, Acting Curator of the Photographic Archive, American Academy in Rome. The holdings of the Photographic Archive of the American Academy in Rome provide a visual record of the architecture and topography of ancient Rome and Italy and the Roman Empire, for the purposes of scholarship, research and publication. The Photographic Archive consists of several valuable and specialized collections of photographs on archeology, art, architecture, landscape architecture and gardens. It also contains special collections relevant and vital to the history of the Academy, from the late-nineteenth century to the present. All of these collections have artifactual value for the history of photography as well as documentary value for the study of their specific subjects.

The Graduate Center is the doctorate-granting institution of The City University of New York. The only consortium of its kind in the nation, The Graduate Center draws its faculty of more than 1,600 members mainly from the CUNY senior colleges and cultural and scientific institutions throughout New York City.

Established in 1961, The Graduate Center has grown to an enrollment of about 3,500 students in 31 doctoral programs and six master's degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. The Graduate Center also houses 30 research centers and institutes and administers the CUNY Baccalaureate Program.

According to a recent National Research Council report, more than a third of The Graduate Center's rated programs rank among the nation's top 20 at public and private institutions, nearly a quarter are among the top ten when compared to publicly supported institutions alone, and more than half are among the top five programs at publicly supported institutions in the northeast.

Submitted on: DEC 5, 2001

Category: James Gallery