This exhibit highlights the work of one of the most influential women photographers in the field of art history during the 20th century, Lucy Wallace Porter (1876–1962), wife of the Harvard medievalist Arthur Kingsley Porter (1883–1933). Although her husband has traditionally been celebrated as a legendary scholar and photographer, recent research shows that Lucy Porter deserves most of the of the credit for the latter. Her work with a large-format camera began during her honeymoon year in 1912–1913, when she and her husband conducted research in northern Italy for his book on Lombard Architecture (4 vols., New Haven, 1915–1917).
In 1949, Lucy Porter gifted the photographs which she and her husband had made during their European journeys to the library of Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum. This collection, now the Arthur Kingsley Porter Teaching and Research Collection, Special Collections, Fine Arts Library, consists of 26,500 black-and-white photographs. Approximately 11,710 of these were made by the two Porters. Lucy Porter’s photographic representations not only insert the work of a highly accomplished woman into the historiography of art history, thereby revising conventional views, but they also provide precious documentation of European medieval art and architecture as it appeared in the early decades of the 20th century and was experienced by the Porters. Many of the sites have since been altered through weathering or restoration.
Curated by Kathryn Brush, Distinguished University Professor, University of Western Ontario, and Joanne Bloom, Photographic Resources Librarian, Harvard Fine Arts Library.