Katherine Manthorne is an art historian at the Graduate Center, City University of New York committed to the study of the art of the Americas (1800-1940) in its hemispheric dimensions. Landscape imagery is a special passion, embodied in publications from Tropical Renaissance. North American Artists Exploring Latin America, 1839-1879 (1989) and Traveler Artists: Landscapes of Latin America from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection (2015) to California Mexicana: Missions to Murals, 1820 to 1930 (2017) and The Rockies and the Alps: Bierstadt, Calame and the Romance of the Mountains (2017). The Caribbean figures in Fern Hunting Among These Picturesque Mountains. Frederic Edwin Church in Jamaica (2010); Nueva York (2010); and Caribbean Crossroads (2012). Working toward the internationalization of American art, she taught courses at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Ca’ Foscari, University of Venice, Italy; and the Freie Universität, Berlin; and co-organized transnational conferences including Landscape Art of the Americas: Sites of Human Intervention Across the Nineteenth Century at the Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia (2021). Women’s contributions to visual culture constitutes another theme in her work featured in two books: Women in the Dark: American Female Photographers 1850-1900 (2020) and Restless Enterprise: The Art and Life of Eliza Pratt Greatorex (2020). Intermediality is another interest explored in Film and Modern American Art: The Dialogue Between Cinema and Painting (2019). She received fellowships from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Fulbright and Smithsonian Institution. Currently projects include Sweet Fortunes: Sugar Plantations, Art Collecting and Enslaved Labor; and Fidelia Bridges: Between Fine Art & Popular Culture.
Restless Enterprise: The Art and Life of Eliza Greatorex
University of California Press, 2020
Eliza Pratt Greatorex (1819–1897) was America’s most famous woman artist in the mid-nineteenth century, but today she is all but forgotten. Beginning with her Irish roots, this biography brings her art and life back into focus. Breaking conventions for female artists at that time, Greatorex specialized in landscapes and streetscapes, traveling from the Hudson River to the Colorado Rockies and across Europe and North Africa. Her crowning achievement, a monumental tome of drawings and narratives titled Old New York, awakened the public to the destruction of the city’s architectural heritage during the post–Civil War era. Exploring Greatorex’s fierce ambition and creative path, Katherine Manthorne reveals how her success at forging an independent career in a male-dominated world shaped American gender politics, visual culture, and urban consciousness.
Published December 2020
Film and Modern American Art: The Dialogue Between Cinema and Painting
Between the 1890s and the 1930s, movie going became an established feature of everyday life across America. Movies constituted an enormous visual data bank and changed the way artist and public alike interpreted images. This book explores modern painting as a response to, and an appropriation of, the aesthetic possibilities pried open by cinema from its invention until the outbreak of World War II, when both the art world and the film industry changed substantially. Artists were watching movies, filmmakers studied fine arts; the membrane between media was porous, allowing for fluid exchange. Each chapter focuses on a suite of films and paintings, broken down into facets and then reassembled to elucidate the distinctive art–film nexus at successive historic moments.
Published September 2020
Women in the Dark: Female Photographers in the U.S., 1850-1900
Recover the stories of long-overlooked American women who, at a time when women rarely worked outside the home, became commercial photographers and shaped the new, challenging medium. Covering two generations of photographers ranging from New York City to California’s mining districts, this study goes beyond a broad survey and explores individual careers through primary sources and new materials. Profiles of the photographers animate their careers by exploring how they began, the details of running their own studios, and their visual output. The featured photos vary in form—daguerreotype, tintype, carte de visite, and more—and subject, including Civil War portraits, postmortem photography, and landscape photography. This welcome resource fills in gaps in photographic, American, and women's history and convincingly lays out the parallels between the growth of photography as an available medium and the late-19th-century women's movement.
Published September 2020
From Darkness to Light: Writers in Museums, 1798-1898
Open Book Publishers, 2019
Katherine Manthorne and Rosella Mamoli Zorzi
From Darkness to Light explores from a variety of angles the subject of museum lighting in exhibition spaces in America, Japan, and Western Europe throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Written by an array of international experts, these collected essays gather perspectives from a diverse range of cultural sensibilities. From sensitive discussions of Tintoretto’s unique approach to the play of light and darkness as exhibited in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice, to the development of museum lighting as part of Japanese artistic self-fashioning, via the story of an epic American painting on tour, museum illumination in the work of Henry James, and lighting alterations at Chatsworth (to name only a few topics) this book is a treasure trove of illuminating contributions.
The collection is at once a refreshing insight for the enthusiastic museum-goer, who is brought to an awareness of the exhibit in its immediate environment, and a wide-ranging scholarly compendium for the professional who seeks to proceed in their academic or curatorial work with a more enlightened sense of the lighted space.
Published April 2019
The Rockies and the Alps: Bierstadt, Calame & the Romance of the Mountains
Katherine Manthorne and Tricia Laughlin Bloom
Inspired by the grandeur of the Rockies and the Alps, American and European artists strove to capture their power in paint. Landscapes of soaring peaks and spectacular vistas became increasingly popular in the mid-nineteenth century, when photographers, scientists, and armchair travelers were awakening to these wonders. Artistic interests coincided with the rise of tourism, as improved transportation and accommodations made mountains and glaciers more accessible. This richly illustrated volume brings together dazzling depictions of the Rockies and the Alps, while examining the dialogue between artists who visited and recorded these geographically distant ranges.
Two key figures highlighted are Swiss painter Alexandre Calame (1810–1864), frequently identified with Alpine views of torrents, glaciers, and gorges, and Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902), whose impressive canvases often provided American audiences with their first glimpse of the Rockies and the western frontier. Their contemporaries included J.M.W. Turner, John Ruskin, painters of the Hudson River School Thomas Cole, Worthington Whittredge, and John F. Kensett, and photographers Carleton Watkins and Eadweard Muybridge.
The Rockies and the Alps features contributions by four outstanding scholars who investigate how geology, flora and fauna, and social and literary contexts relate to the rise of alpine landscape painting. Each essay explores the close connections among these artists and diverse layers of symbolism these mountain images carried, revealing how the same landscape paintings that became archetypal symbols of American identity were in fact the product of a dialogue between American and European artists.
Published February 2018
California Mexicana: Missions to Murals, 1820-1930
University of California Press, 2017
Following the U.S.-Mexican War (1846–1848), lands that had for centuries belonged to New Spain, and later to Mexico, were transformed into the thirty-first state in the United States. This process was facilitated by visual artists, who forged distinct pictorial motifs and symbols to establish the state’s new identity. This collective cultural inheritance of the Spanish and Mexican periods forms a central current of California history but has been only sparingly studied by cultural and art historians. California Mexicana focuses for the first time on the range and vitality of artistic traditions growing out of the unique amalgam of Mexican and American culture that evolved in Southern California from 1820 through 1930. A study of these early regional manifestations provides the essential matrix out of which emerge later art and cultural issues. Featuring painters, printmakers, photographers, and mapmakers from both sides of the border, this collection demonstrates how they made the Mexican presence visible in their art. This beautifully illustrated catalogue addresses two key areas of inquiry: how Mexico became California, and how the visual arts reflected the shifting identity that grew out of that transformation.
Published in association with the Laguna Art Museum, and as part of the Getty's Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.
Published October 2017
Traveler Artists: Landscapes of Latin America from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection
Fundación Cisneros/Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, 2015
In the 19th century, European and North American travelers illustrated narratives of their explorations in the New World that were published in Europe. Europeans imagined the tropics as a site for cultural imperialism and fantasies of self-realization. Traveler artists often authenticated this perception by presenting the landscape as an enchanted land. Later in the century, native artists began to pick up the European landscape tradition and reflect on their own culture through a different lens. Traveler Artists contributes new scholarship to this burgeoning field and offers original research on 52 artworks by such key figures as Frans Post, Frederick Edwin Church, José María Velasco and Auguste Morisot, many of which are reproduced here for the first time.
Published October 2015
Fern Hunting among These Picturesque Mountains: Frederic Edwin Church in Jamaica
In 1865 the American landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church and his wife, Isabel, traveled to Jamaica on a sojourn of recovery after the tragic deaths of their two young children. A time to mourn and escape from the constant reminders found at their home, Olana, the Churches' trip to Jamaica also provided ample inspiration for Frederic. The Olana Collection includes eight oil sketches, an ink drawing, and a pencil drawing Church made in Jamaica. Five of these oil sketches on paper Church chose to mount to canvas and frame for his and Isabel's enjoyment; from these works, and others held by the Cooper-Hewitt, Church created two major studio oils, The Vale of St. Thomas, Jamaica (1867) and The After Glow (1867). The volume includes 48 color illustrations, as well as essays by Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser (on Church's Jamaica work) and Katherine Manthorne (about Church's friends and fellow artists who also traveled to Jamaica to paint).
Published June 2010
Cornell University Press, 2010