About: Miriam Katz

I am the research associate in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. My primary responsibility is cataloging the 110,000+ photographs owned by the Museum.

Posts by Miriam

Posted in Behind the Scenes, J. Paul Getty Museum, Photographs, Film, and Video, Research, Voices

Getty Voices: Be a Photograph Sleuth

Miriam looks through her handy magnifying glass and light to try to determine the photographic process of this image.
Miriam looks through her handy magnifying glass and light to try to determine the photographic process of this image.

I spend as much of my time looking through a magnifying glass as a classic detective does—solving the mysteries of the Getty’s Department of Photographs. More»

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Posted in Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, Photographs, Film, and Video

Boo! Don’t Look Now, But I See a Ghost

Mrs. Chapin oil merchant & his spirit wife & babe recognized / William H. Mumler

In the 1860s, an era fascinated with spiritualism—spirits, the supernatural, messages from the Great Beyond—a small-time engraver named William Mumler realized he could apply the latest technology of his day, photography, to create “spirit photographs.” Almost a visual séance, Mumler’s… More»

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      gettypubs:

      COBALT

      The histories of many colors are amazing, but cobalt may well have the most brilliant of them all. From the Ming Dynasty to Renaissance Italy, cobalt was a popular glaze for porcelain and other ceramics. Cobalt ink is invisible unless exposed to flame, which turns it a vivid green. In the 17th century, this quality made Europeans believe it was witchcraft, but decades later it was used as a neat trick on fire screens. It wasn’t until 1802 that painters added cobalt to their palette. 

      It is this little tidbit from cobalt’s history that saved master forger Han van Meergeren’s skin after WWII, when he was tried for collaborating with the Nazis. Want to find out how some art history sleuthing and smart science got him a not guilty verdict? Hint: Don’t try to forge a Vermeer with cobalt! 

      Read all about it in The Brilliant History of Color in Art!

      Images, clockwise:

      Glazed earthenware dish with a marchant ship, Italy, about 1510. 

      Glazed earthenware tile floor, Spain, about 1425-50.

      Porcelain lidded vase, China, about 1662-1772.

      All objects from the J. Paul Getty Museum. 

      12/18/14

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