Letter to ARC

Home / Education / ARChives / Letters

Letter to ARC


Published before 2005

Dear Fred, Sherry, Iian,

First of all, thank you so much for this wonderful website. I visit your site daily to see what's been added. One of my life's pleasures is collecting scans of paintings on my computer. And your site focuses on the classical realism I love.

I have a request, an impassioned plea, actually. Please include the highest quality images you possibly can. High-resolution, large files.

I'm prompted to make this request today, because I've just been enjoying looking at some of the images from my National Gallery of Art CD-ROM. It has precisely the kind of images I crave: mostly one to three megabytes. I haven't viewed these images in a while, and as I soaked in the beauty of one of my favorite Chardin paintings, I was reminded of an important truth. At least, a truth for me.

When an image has fine detail, I can look at it endlessly! I can't tell you how much pleasure it gives me to look at, for example, some of the hi-res Bouguereau images you've put on your site. (Iian--I love the quality of the scans you put up on Renaissance Cafe. And the Museum of Fine Arts in S.F. does an amazing job with it's zoom technology.)

Let me say this another way. Fred said, in his recent speech, that modernist art was about art rather than about life. That a painting should provide an actual experience of beauty, not just serve as a symbol of such an experience. I agree!

And your website, at its best, does provide, at least for me, such an experience. Unfortunately, many, many, of the images, lack detail and nuance. These are merely symbols. Looking at these images is like hearing an exquisite symphony through a tiny, tiny, speaker that provides no depth or accuracy of reproduction.

Now I realize that this is a selfish request. Just one person's bias. You surely have the needs of many people in mind as you create your website. And different visitors to your site will have different preferences, different degrees of patience, and different technological capabilities.

Nevertheless, I offer you my request and my point of view for what it's worth. Thanks for reading this, and thanks again for the pleasure you give me!

Bruce Siegel