2,000+ Impressionist, Post-impressionist & Early Modern Paintings Now Free Online, Thanks to the Barnes Foundation

Georges Seu­rat, Hen­ri Rousseau, Gior­gio de Chiri­co, Auguste Renoir, Vin­cent Van Gogh — all of us asso­ciate these names with great inno­va­tions in paint­ing, but how many of us have had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to look long and close enough at their work to under­stand those inno­va­tions? To feel them, in oth­er words, rather than just to know about them? The Barnes Foun­da­tion in Philadel­phia has just recent­ly made it pos­si­ble for us to con­tem­plate thou­sands of works of art includ­ing those of Impres­sion­ist, Post-Impres­sion­ist, and ear­ly Mod­ern mas­ters, zoomed in up close and at any length we like, by dig­i­tiz­ing their col­lec­tion and mak­ing it free online.

“Thanks to Open Access,” writes Art­net’s Sarah Cas­cone, “2,081 of the Barnes’s 4,021 objects have been pub­lished online. Of those, there are high-res­o­lu­tion images of 1,429 works avail­able for down­load in the pub­lic domain.

It’s a big step for a muse­um that as recent­ly as 1991 hadn’t pub­lished any col­or imagery of its hold­ings,” due in part to the pref­er­ences of founder and “eccen­tric art col­lec­tor Alfred C. Barnes (1872–1951), who drew up strict rules for how the muse­um would be run.” For instance, it seems that Barnes, who dis­ap­proved of the way the ear­ly col­or pho­tog­ra­phy repro­duced paint­ings, felt he had no choice but to ban it in his muse­um entire­ly.

“As we were rethink­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion of our col­lec­tion online we were con­sid­er­ing the sen­si­tiv­i­ty Barnes had around col­or repro­duc­tion,” writes Deputy Direc­tor of Audi­ence Engage­ment and Chief Expe­ri­ence Offi­cer Shel­ley Bern­stein, “but we also had to think about the needs of today’s stu­dents, researchers, and schol­ars. It goes with­out say­ing that the work of oth­er insti­tu­tions  —  the open access ini­tia­tive at the Met, espe­cial­ly  —  helped make these deci­sions much eas­i­er.” And though the Barnes first start­ed putting its works of art on the inter­net five years ago, “that last iter­a­tion of the col­lec­tion online didn’t fore­ground the abil­i­ty for users to down­load or share images eas­i­ly.”

Now, the Barnes’ online col­lec­tion fea­tures near­ly 1,500 items free to down­load so far. But cur­rent­ly down­load­able or not, every­thing uploaded so far appears in an eas­i­ly search­able, brows­able, and, most of all, view­able form. Here we have van Gogh’s The Broth­el, Paul Cézan­ne’s The Bathers, and Rousseau’s Out­skirts of Paris, four paint­ings that, in many ways, look as styl­is­ti­cal­ly fresh as they did when first revealed in the late 19th cen­tu­ry to the mid-20th. The fact that 21st-cen­tu­ry tech­nol­o­gy has made it so much eas­i­er for all human­i­ty to see that would, one likes to think, have pleased even old Mr. Barnes him­self.

Enter the Barnes online col­lec­tion here.

via Art­net News

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load 35,000 Works of Art from the Nation­al Gallery, Includ­ing Mas­ter­pieces by Van Gogh, Gau­guin, Rem­brandt & More

An Intro­duc­tion to 100 Impor­tant Paint­ings with Videos Cre­at­ed by Smarthis­to­ry

Aston­ish­ing Film of Arthrit­ic Impres­sion­ist Painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1915)

Impres­sion­ist Painter Edgar Degas Takes a Stroll in Paris, 1915

The Maligned Impres­sion­ist Painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir Illus­trates Emile Zola’s Grit­ty Nov­el L’Assommoir (1878)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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