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Now everyone is an insider!

In order to provide an open forum for ALL of the museum’s collection and activities, the Paper + People blog is being renamed SCMA Insider. With its expanded focus, SCMA Insider will act as a go-to place for sharing information on the diverse collections and many voices and visions that shape SCMA.

If you want to contribute to the blog, please contact the Brown Post-Baccalaureate Curatorial Fellow, Shanice Bailey, at

  • Monday, October 10, 2011

    What about this drawing intrigues you?

    What about this drawing intrigues you?

    Help SCMA improve our interpretive labels!

    The goal of interpretive labels is to give visitors information about works of art. The problem, of course, is that not everyone is interested in the same thing.

    What do YOU want to know? Here’s your chance to share your ideas and help us create more effective and interesting labels.

    What questions do you have about this drawing?

    What is the first thing you notice?

    What words come to mind when looking at this drawing?

    What function do you imagine this drawing may have had?

    Please record your questions, comments, ideas, or observations in the comments section. You can use the questions we’ve provided or formulate your own: all observations are welcome.

    Your feedback will also help us in planning an exhibition of French and Italian drawings scheduled to be on view during the Fall of 2012.

    We will post some test labels based on your comments and ideas, and hope you will check Paper + People to see (and rate!) our labels for clarity, interest, and effectiveness.

    An installation featuring this drawing will be on view on the Museum’s second floor until November.


  • Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    Odd Couples: Venus vs. Eve

    Albrecht Dürer. German, 1471 – 1528. Adam and Eve,1504. Engraving printed in black on antique laid paper. Bequest of Mr. and Mrs. Murray Seasongood (Agnes Senior, class of 1911). SC 1983:20-4. Photograph by Petegorsky/Gipe.

    Marcantonio Raimondi. Italian, ca. 1480 – ca. 1535. Venus and Adonis,n.d. Engraving on paper. Purchased. SC 1940:16-1. Photograph by Petegorsky/Gipe.

    The Cunningham Center harbors a wonderful collection of old master prints that is especially strong in the area of Northern European Renaissance works.  One of the eye-opening experiences you can have when working with old master prints is uncovering their insights into the history and philosophy of a past culture.

    The portability of prints in the early Renaissance made them the perfect medium to propagate cultural beliefs, as well as subjects and trends in art.  Prints travelled easily and were relatively affordable, enabling a cross-pollination of art and ideas between northern and southern Europe.  Relatively egoless, printmakers of the early fifteenth century readily shared with and copied works from other artists. One such well-known and respected copyist was Marcantonio Raimondi, considered an important innovator in the history of Italian printmaking.  While most Italian printmakers of the time copied directly from known painted works, Raimondi was also famous for his free interpretations of works by other artists.

    Raimondi’s Venus and Adonisis a fascinating example of this practice.  Raimondi re-works portions of Adam and Eve,an engraving by the famous German artist Albrecht Dürer. In Venus and Adonis,Raimondi depicts a nude man and woman situated in a landscape composed similarly to Dürer’s in Adam and Eve,and directly copies Dürer’s lazy-eyed stag, which appears in both prints from behind a centrally located skinny tree.

    Detail from Adam and Eve

    Detail from Venus and Adonis

    In a way, these iconographic borrowings transform Raimondi’s Venus and Adonisinto a southern “pagan” equivalent to Dürer’s northern Christian Adam and Eve.

    The correlation between Adam and Eveand Venus and Adonisis not as farfetched as it may seem at first glance. In Ovid’s story of Venus and Adonisit is Venus who actively seduces Adonis. Often portrayed as a manipulative seductress, Venus’s attributes were easily transposed onto the biblical Eve, who, according to Saint Augustine (354 – 430), probably the most influential Christian theologian of all time, used her womanly charms to entice the innocent Adam into sin, ultimately leading to the Fall of mankind.

    That Eve used her womanly charm to achieve this feat leads us to an interesting detail that connects the two stories in these prints even further. In Raimondi’s print, Adonis is holding Venus’s breast. The breast is easily confused in this context with the seductive round apple Eve offers to Adam, a correlation that has been made in other works of art.

    Hans Baldung Grien. German, 1484/85-1545. Adam and Eve,1511. Chiaroscuro woodcut. Rosenwald Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington. 1943.3.907

    Comparing these two works by Raimondi and Dürer reveals how artists of the time made interpretive choices to convey cultural and religious ideas, in this case regarding the cunning and destructive sexual power of women—an idea that had currency in both northern and southern Europe, and that unfortunately still resonates in our time.


  • Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Announcing Student Picks Winners 2011-2012

    Congratulations to the Student Picks winners for the 2011 - 2012 academic year! These Smith students will get to organize an art show using the Cunningham Center's collection of prints, drawings and photographs.

    October 7, 2011 – Nicole Teitelbaum ‘14

    November 4, 2011 – Elizabeth Stewart ‘13

    December 2, 2011 – Maggie Weiler ‘15

    February 3, 2012 – Margot Lurie ‘12

    March 2, 2012 – Gabrielle Morrison ‘15

    April 6, 2012 – Catherine Popovici ‘13

    May 4, 2012 – Jasmine Setoodehnia ‘14

    October 5, 2012 – Laila Phillips ‘15

    After collecting all five ballot boxes on Friday from their locations around campus, we poured the many entries into our infamous big red bucket (courtesy of the Education Department!). SCMA Director Jessica Nicoll picked the seven names, and two alternates.

    Meanwhile, we're close on the heels of our first Student Picks show of the year. Nicole Teitelbaum '14, whose name was drawn last year, will show her picks on the Friday after next -- October 7, from 12 to 4 PM. The topic is depictions of mental illness and disorder in art, which relates to Nicole's work as the chair of Smith's chapter of Active Minds as well as her Psychology major.

    I will post an invitation on the SCMA Facebook page next week, so remember to "like us" on Facebook if you want to receive updates on upcoming Student Picks exhibitions.