June: Bright Lights, Big Archive


We’re celebrating the summer sun with light-themed images from the exhibit collection – no sunglasses necessary.

Scroll down to discover more about each image.

Hi-Tech, High Art. The poster for Jules Massenet’s opera Le Jongleur de Notre Dame featured the production’s special lighting effects, which transferred a halo from the Virgin’s head to the juggler’s. These effects were achieved by using cutting-edge new technology – electrical stage lights.

Poster for Massenet’s Le Jongleur de Notre Dame, Georges Antoine Rochegrosse (Paris, 1904).

I’m gonna swing… A chandelier illuminates a room in a 1903 illustrated printing of Balzac’s La Belle Imperia. This slim volume, with gilt-edged pages bound in leather, is a fine example of the extravagant medievalizing techniques of bookmakers during the Gothic Revival.

Honore de Balzac, La Belle Impéria. Conte drolatique, illustrated by Edmond Malassis (Paris: Louis Conrad, 1903).

Lightbulb Juggler. Contemporary artist Arman (1928–2005) created this piece titled “Jongleur de Notre Dame” by fusing a classical statue with electric lights.

Arman, Jongleur de Notre Dame (1994) , cast bronze statue with light fixtures, 231 × 90 × 82 cm. New York, Arman Studio. Photograph by Francois Fernandez. Image courtesy of Arman Studio, New York. All rights reserved.

Meta-Illumination. A monk uses the light of a monastery window to paint miniatures for an illuminated manuscript. This image is itself an illumination in a 1906 version of Anatole France’s Le Jongleur de Notre Dame, illustrated by Henri Malteste (Malatesta).

Anatole France, Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame, illustrated by Henri Malatesta (Paris: F. Ferroud, 1906), p.16.