An Informed Consumer… Shopping with Thérèse Bonney in Paris.

The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library owns over 4,000 photographs by American photographer and journalist Thérèse Bonney, (1894-1978), who documented life in Paris from 1925-35. In 1929, she and her sister Louise created A Shopping Guide to Paris,  for the “350,000 Americans who visit Paris every year.” The foreword says, “dozens of books have been written telling you what to see, but we are writing about where to buy, … buying is as important as sightseeing in this enchanting city.”     An American woman shopping for Paris fashions might have felt overwhelmed by the many small boutiques and fashion houses. Thérèse and Louise Bonney outlined in great detail the procedure and etiquette of visiting couturiers and buying dresses and coats, as well as the separate boutiques for hats, gloves, leather goods, and other accessories. These tips made shopping less intimidating and reassured the American traveler that they could be as knowledgeable, sophisticated and as chic as the French woman. Advice on who the top name fashion houses were, the chapters devoted more »

Painted Backgrounds for Turn of the Century Photographers

They’re all over social media – frames, filters, and special camera effects on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms to help you add pizzazz to your selfies and other photos. But is anything really new these days? We found something that may be the grandfather (or at least great uncle) of social media filters – hand-painted backgrounds for photography studios dating from the early 1900s.

For bicyclists and shutter bugs

This post was written by Adrian Vaagenes, volunteer in the National Museum of American History library. In the last five years, the Go-Pro, the durable HD camera of daredevils the world over, has become ubiquitous. Whether out on the trails or on the streets, it’s not uncommon to see a bicyclist documenting his or her latest excursions. Photography and bicycles have a long history, literally growing up together, with both  the first more »

Swahili Coast: Exploration by French Captain Charles Guillain, 1846-1848. Part 3, Encounters and Partnerships

The blog post, last of three, was written by Xavier Courouble, research assistant for Sailors and Daughters: Early Photography and the Indian Ocean, an online exhibition part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art’s Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean: From Oman to East Africa. Charles Guillain’s three-volume work, Documents sur l’histoire, la géographie, et le commerce de l’Afrique orientale and the accompanying atlas folio of lithographs and map engravings, Voyage more »

American Photography in Living Color

When working a in a library, sometimes you come across a book that demands your attention. I was recently captivated by Color: American Photography Transformed, a gorgeous catalogue from Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Nearly every page features large plates of snapshots, advertisements, and artworks. Each seems as fresh and vibrant as they must have appeared to their first viewers.

Women’s History Month: An American in Paris, Thérèse Bonney

Born in upstate New York, Thérèse Bonney(1897-1978), was a photojournalist whose work reflected a wide variety of interests and subjects. She studied at the University of California at Berkeley and Radcliffe College in the 1910s. Bonney immigrated to France in 1919 where she became one of the first ten women to graduate from the Sorbonne and founded the first American illustrated press service in Europe, the Bonney Service, in 1924. 

Libraries Artists Shine

Congratulations to Jody Mussoff, Doug Dunlop, and Huston Dove, Libraries catalogers whose artwork was selected for inclusion in Artists at Work 2011, a juried exhibition organized by the Smithsonian Community Committee.

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