Art History


J. J. Grandville, Un autre monde, 1844

The nineteenth century was a critical period in the history of science. A number of visionaries – from Lamarck to Haeckel, not to mention Darwin and Wallace – published and popularized the conceptual breakthroughs that led the way to modern evolutionary biology. I am drawn to the intersection between the history of art and the history of science, and luckily for me, artists from the nineteenth century produced fascinating prints and designs that reflect scientific concepts.  My undergraduate thesis centered on J.J. Grandville, a “Proto-Surrealist” political dissident who may or may not have been insane: my research shows that Grandville’s disturbing hybrid creatures, dismissed by his contemporaries as evidence of his madness, reflect the pre-Darwinian evolutionary theories of Lamarck and Geoffroy. My latest project is on insect diversity in Art Nouveau design – why did cicadas and grasshoppers suddenly become popular with the European avant-garde at the turn of the twentieth century?


By far the biggest frustration I’ve encountered as an art history student is the difficulty of getting image permissions for academic publication. Many collections charge high fees to use existing images of artworks that are already in the public domain. I maintain a list of museums that allow non-commercial reproduction of their images – I started it for my own use, but I hope that this may be helpful to others. If you know of additional museums that I should add (surely there are many), please send me an e-mail at

Museums that allow license-free, cost-free, non-commercial use of public-domain art: