Monday, August 30, 2010

Rare Books and Magnificent Maps

Arader Galleries has, for the fourth year in a row, participated in the London Rare Books School ( , a series of intensive courses on a variety of book-related subjects taught by internationally renowned scholars, with privileged access to the treasured collections of London’s finest libraries and museums, including the British Library, the British Museum, the National Archives, and the Royal Geographic Society, to name a few.

Catherine DeLano-Smith, the editor of Imago Mundi, and Sarah Tyack, former chief Executive of the National Archives (UK), lead The History of Maps and Map Making and Mapping Land and Sea before 1900 seminars respectively. Highlights included a private tour and lecture of the British Library’s current exhibition Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art with curator and director Peter Barber. (

Featuring over 80 of the most impressive wall maps ever created, this exhibit tells the cumulative story of how maps, and the underlying agendas of their creators and commissioners, have been used to wield power and control throughout history, from 200AD to the present day.

The exhibition beautifully exemplifies one of the main themes of modern cartographic study; that maps are subjective images that convey much more than geographic information. This rich world of nuanced yet complex purposes comes to light as one begins to see each map through the eyes of its originally intended audience.

The magnificent Maps exhibition at the British Library will be on display until September 19, 2010.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Oakland Museum of California

Albert Bierstadt
Yosemite Valley
Oil on canvas
Photo courtesy of the
Oakland Museum

Discreetly located in downtown Oakland is a gem of California culture and art, the Oakland Museum of California. The museum, divided into three levels, tells the history of California and the Bay Area through numerous forms of media and allows for visitors to interact with the displays and leave their own images, writings and experiences along the way.

The history gallery is based around the theme “Coming to California.” Vividly illustrated and extremely detailed, this exhibition gives a broad view of the development California over time: from Native American life in the west, the impact of Spanish colonization, construction of major cities and railways and the impact of the ever changing political climates in California, with a special focus on the Bay Area. The interactive exhibition is fun and interesting for children and adults alike and gives a unique insight into the evolution of California.

Interactive display at the Oakland Museum
Photo courtesy of

The art gallery at the Oakland Museum includes over 70,000 works by California artists, ranging in disciplines and topics with subject matters significant to the California region and ideologies. Large-scale landscape paintings by Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Hill and William Keith, also in the Arader Galleries collection, show the great skill of the artists and refined beauty of the Sierras in the late 1900’s.

The photography collection includes Dorothea Lange’s documentation of the Great Depression across the
US and a dynamic book of Carleton Watkins photographs of Yosemite. Figurative and abstract paintings by local and California artists bring life and color to this diverse collection.

The Oakland Museum is filled with fascinating information about California history, beautifully translated and displayed with an inviting and aesthetic approach, appealing to all of the senses.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Maps Lecture by Margaret Pritchard

Thomas Conder, Map of the Interior Travels Through America
London, c. 1789

Margaret Pritchard made the journey from Williamsburg, VA to deliver an incredibly insightful presentation and lecture for The American Decorative Arts Forum at San Francisco’s De Young Museum. The Arader Galleries San Francisco team was in attendance and hosted Margaret for a private reception in the San Francisco Gallery. Margaret received a bachelor’s degree from Hollins College. After working with Winterthur’s needlework collection for a year, she received a fellowship at Colonial Williamsburg to assist with the refurnishing of the Governor’s Palace.Margaret subsequently became the curator of Colonial Williamsburg’s collections of prints, maps and wallpaper. Her responsibilities include acquisition of new objects for the collections and research in the medium of paper. She selects appropriate prints, maps, and wallpaper to hang on the walls of buildings in the historic district, such as the Brush-Everard House, the George Wythe House and the recently recreated Richard Charlton Coffeehouse. Margaret Prichard’s publications include William Byrd II and His Lost History: Engravings of the Americaswith Virginia Sites (1993); Empire’s Nature: Mark Catesby’s New World Vision with Amy Meyers (1998); andDegrees of Latitude: Mapping Colonial America with Henry Taliaferro (2002). She combined her study of geography with living nature for “A Protracted View: The Relationship between Mapmakers and Naturalists in Recording the Land,” her contribution to Curious in our Way: The Culture of Nature in Philadelphia, 1740-1840 (2009).

Margaret’s lecture focused on maps in the 17th and 18th centuries and their importance for documenting new discoveries and promoting settlement in the New World. These documents — created by empirical observation and scientific equipment — authoritatively documented claims of boundaries between colonies and empires. Land titles and rents, and trade — aided by nautical atlases, hung in the balance. As the struggle between France and Britain for control of North America intensified in the 18th century, the need for reliable maps for military use also increased.

Maps also embodied intellectual attainment and social aspiration. Prominently displayed maps, charts, atlases and globes became status symbols for the enlightened, genteel 18th century gentleman whose library might well have included works on commerce, navigation, geography, mathematics, physics, natural history and travel. Maps were ordinarily displayed in the hall (not today’s passageway but the name for the primary room for welcoming guests to the home) or dining room, literally and figuratively demonstrating the host’s expanded world view to guests.

Margaret explained the role of maps as powerful visual symbols during the 17th and 18th centuries. They were useful devices for mapmakers and colonial expansionists to convey a host of attitudes and values. She dissected the meaning behind many of the elements in the maps’ cartouches, adding engaging insight into these stunning antique maps. Examples of many of the maps discussed can be found in the Arader Galleries collection. See our section on Maps on the home page of our website (