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Libraries and Archives: Goodyear Archival Collection

William Henry Goodyear (1846–1923), whose image collections are presented here, was the Brooklyn Museum's first curator of fine arts (1899–1923) and a renowned art and architectural historian. In addition to being a vital force in the early years of the Museum's fine arts department, Goodyear did extensive research in art history and architectural theory. Within this collection of correspondence, scrapbooks, notes, clippings, and expedition diaries, are images of medieval cathedrals, churches, and mosques taken between 1895 and 1914 that he used for his architectural research.

Goodyear developed a theory that medieval churches throughout Europe displayed curved lines, concave walls, widening naves and other asymmetries, that were not accidental phenomena created by settling stone or poor construction, but the original architects' deliberate inventions. Goodyear called these deviations "architectural refinements."

Between the years 1895 and 1914, Goodyear conducted survey expeditions to Europe, Turkey, Egypt and Greece visiting medieval cathedrals, churches, and mosques, meticulously noting the measurements of piers, transepts, apses, etc. and taking numerous photographs of these details in his efforts to document the occurrences of refinements. By including tools like surveyor's rods and plumb lines in the images, the photos became important evidence for validating his thesis. The photographs taken during these expeditions provide not only the visual key to his work on refinements but are also valuable records of medieval churches and cathedrals before the world wars.

On his 1895 research expedition to Italy he was accompanied by photographer John McKecknie and took additional images of objects within Italian museums. In 1900, Goodyear traveled to the Paris Exposition with photographer Joseph Hawkes. They brought back numerous images from the exposition including street life, vistas, pavilions, statues, and other structures and decorative details.

Please note: The captions, annotations, and technical notes for the Goodyear images were transcribed from Goodyear's own descriptive text; variation in spellings for city and site names in these descriptions reflect his usage. When necessary, staff created captions or augmented Goodyear's text. Country, city and site names in the headings have been regularized.




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