ARTH210: How Art Became Modern
Part 3: Annotated Bibliography Entries
Length: approx. 3-5 pages
(address 2 primary sources and 4 secondary sources; one long paragraph per entry)
Due Date: Thursday, April 14th at noon
Submit: on Canvas
Having received feedback on your bibliography, select two primary sources and four secondary sources to annotate. That means, you’ll read the source closely, summarize its argument versus its subject, and explain the role it would play in a research paper on your topic.
* Note that having received feedback on your sources, you may need to locate additional or alternative sources to those on your original bibliography
Annotating your sources:
Cite each source in full, summarize its argument, and explain how it would enable you to test, flesh out, and substantiate your hypothesis. In what way would the source contribute to a research paper on your chosen work? What role would it play in your interpretation?
Sample: Primary source
Charles Willson Peale, “My Design in Forming This Museum”  printed in Hugh H. Genoways and Mary Anne Andrei, eds., Museum Origins: Readings in Early Museum History and Philosophy (Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2008): 23-28.
This source is a broadside, or advertisement, that Peale distributed to potential investors in his museum. In it, he states that his goal for his museum is as follows: “to collect and preserve all the variety of animals and fossils that could be acquired, and exhibit these publicly…” (23) To this end, Peale provides an accounting of the specimens that he has and those that he wishes to acquire as well as the funding this effort would require. What interests me most about this source is the way in which Peale organizes this information. Peale explicitly tells his potential investors that his discussion will “follow the order in which that great man, Linnaeus, has given, in his classing the objects of natural history.” (24) Linnaeus was an 18th-century scientist who coined a system to classify the contents of the natural world. Accordingly, Peale discusses his specimens—specifically those pertaining to the animal kingdom—in order of most to least complex. He starts with humanity, then descends to large animals, followed by birds, then amphibians, fish, insects, and lastly worms. As I read his discussion of these specimens, I realized that it resonates with the order in which the specimens are displayed in Peale’s The Artist in His Museum. The birds at the bottom of the display are aquatic; above them are birds that fly; and, at the top of the display, we see portraits of white men. As such, per my hypothesis about the painting, this text proves that Peale was interested in placing his specimens into some kind of order. The museum was not a random collection or assortment of things, but, rather, a methodical visualization of the Linnaean System.
(Side note: another primary source you consult might address Peale’s interest in taxidermy. Collectively, then, these two sources would legitimate the hypothesis that, as a museum director, Peale transformed the raw data of nature into a legible and comprehensible system.)
Sample: Secondary source
David C. Ward, “‘I Bring Forth into Public View’: Peale’s Secular Apotheosis in The Artist in His Museum,” in Charles Willson Peale: Art and Selfhood in the Early Republic (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004): 155-192.
In this chapter, Ward addresses the six self portraits that Charles Willson Peale created in the 1820s, towards the end of his life and career, with a special focus on The Artist in His Museum. Noting that these works were either directly or indirectly produced in the service of cultural organizations with which Peale was associated, the author argues that they all define him as a public figure in the public service. In terms of The Artist in His Museum in particular, Ward argues that the painting depicts Peale as an “impresario” (p. 163) and a master of his domain, who enables viewers—both those within the painting and those outside of it—to access the fruits of his scientific and intellectual labors. In this way, the painting served to assert Peale’s artistic, scientific, and even masculine virility at the time of their decline. As the senior artist aged, his museum moved venues, and one of his sons defied Peale’s most basic professional and personal tenets, Peale created a painting that captured his likeness, but also one that depicted him as he wanted to be seen. The Artist in His Museum represents Peale as a confident scientist, artist, museum director, and husband who will bring order and stability to all who accept his invitation to study the natural world.
This text serves my hypothesis in several ways. Firstly, Ward also reads the representation of the museum as stable and orderly, thereby confirming my interpretation of it as such. The chapter also explains why Peale would have made this painting when he did—both in terms of his own biography and the times in which he lived. But I found the logic somewhat flawed. Ward argues that the painting was trying to make a statement to the public, but he ends up claiming the painting served a psychological purpose for Peale. Whether or not the painting served this role for Peale, we cannot know, but the chapter made me realize it’d be helpful to address why the artist would want to make a painting the explains what it means to be a museum director. What was the popular perception of museums and museum work at the time? To whom was Peale’s visual argument directed and why? In order to answer these questions, I read more about where the painting was hung, who saw it, and what the status of museums was in the early Republic (how pervasive they were, what kind of experience people expected to have there, etc.). See my annotation for David Brigham’s Public Culture in the Early Republic: Peale’s Museum and Its Audience.