The talk will offer a unique look at New Orleans and his exciting upcoming project with LSU Press using the manuscript of Jewell’s Crescent City Illustrated of 1873 from Hill Memorial Library.
Since its publication in 1873, Jewell’s Crescent City Illustrated has been a primary source for the architectural, urban and commercial history of New Orleans. Illustrated with wood engravings of buildings accompanying profiles of commercial firms, it is an outstanding example of the commercial booster book that became an important document of city building in nineteenth century America.
Jewell’s also offers valuable evidence of nineteenth century engraving practice and the printing trade, notably in the rare survival of the publisher’s prospectus now in the Hill Library collections. The prospectus provides the source for the illustrations by prominent New York engraver William Orr in over a hundred original (and in most cases unique) photographic prints by New Orleans photographer Theodore Lilienthal.
Van Zante’s talk explores the origins of Jewell’s, especially the relationship between the nearly century-old practice of wood engraving and the new technology of photography.
Gary Van Zante is Curator of Architecture, Design and Photography at the MIT Museum and Director of the Wolk Gallery at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At MIT since 2002, he has curated exhibitions ranging from sixteenth century architectural graphics to contemporary design practice and photography. These include exhibitions of the work of Joel Tettamanti, Margaret Morton, Gabrielle Basilico, Angus Boulton, Stanley Greenberg, Cervin Robinson, among other contemporary photographers. His exhibition Berenice Abbott: Photography and Science, An Essential Unity, opened last November at the Multimedia Museum Moscow. He has organized over 50 exhibitions in a nearly twenty five year curatorial career.
From 1994 to 2002 he was head of the Southeastern Architectural Archive at Tulane University, where he also taught in the preservation program of the School of Architecture. He is the author of New Orleans 1867: Photographs by Theodore Lilienthal (Merrell Publishers, London) and recently collaborated with James O’Gorman on a catalogue of New Orleans architectural drawings, to be published by Pelican Press early next year. He is a director of the Society of Architectural Historians.