World Picture: Travel Imagery Before and After Photography

March 21 – September 13, 2019
Hirshland Exhibition Gallery
Level 2B, Carl A. Kroch Library

Drawing from Cornell’s Rare and Manuscript Collections and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, "World Picture" examines how published travel imagery created and transmitted geographical knowledge during the nineteenth century, a period of rapid and extraordinary change in how people traveled, represented, and understood the world. After photography’s 1839 debut, the new medium was seen as uniquely suited to the task of presenting accurate geographical description. At the same time, traditional illustration methods such as wood engravings, etchings, and lithographs offered varied and often romanticized interpretations of their subjects in an exploding number of publications dedicated to travel and exploration. What does this reveal about the roles of authenticity and aesthetics in the success of the Western project to teach audiences about faraway places?


Join us for a special reunion lecture, Thursday, June 6

"Forever Your Journey: Capturing the Experience of Faraway Places, 1700-1900"
Andrew Moisey, Professor of Art History and Visual Studies
Thursday, June 6, 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Goldwin Smith Hall, Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium

Reception immediately following:
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m, level 2B Carl A. Kroch Library

How, and when, did the idea arise that one might capture the exhilaration of travel in a picture?  This talk by Andrew Moisey, Professor of Art History and Visual Studies, will reveal the surprising origin of travel pictures and their transformation after the invention of photography.  We will witness the romantic belief in a “world spirit” turn into a “world picture,” captured in a frame yet expanding sublimely beyond it.  This lecture is presented in conjunction with the Kroch Library’s exhibition “World Picture: Travel Imagery Before and After Photography.”

Hot springs
George Steuart Mackenzie and J. Clark. “Cauldron of boiling mud on the sulfur mountains,” 1811, hand-colored aquatint. From Mackenzie, Travels in the island of Iceland during the summer of the year MDCCX (Edinburgh: Printed by T. Allan for A. Constable, 1811). Cornell University Library, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.
Hot springs
Frederick W. W. Howell. “The semi-defunct Strokkur, and lower set of hot springs,” around 1900, collodion POP print. Icelandic and Faroese photographs of Frederick W.W. Howell, with Icelandic photographs of Henry A. Perkins and Magnús Olafsson. Cornell University Library, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.

View the online exhibition