Radiant Beauty

28 April–30 July 2018

Exhibition Overview

E. L. Trouvelot, Aurora Borealis

A rare set of exquisite lithographs depicting the pastel drawings of planets, comets, eclipses, and other celestial wonders by artist/astronomer Étienne Léopold Trouvelot (1827-1895) are highlighted in the focused exhibition “Radiant Beauty: E. L. Trouvelot’s Astronomical Drawings.” The set of 15 chromolithographs, published in two portfolios as The Trouvelot Astronomical Drawings in 1882, was the crowning achievement of an extraordinarily talented artist and scientist who produced more than 7,000 astronomical illustrations and some 50 scientific articles during his lifetime. Initially, the Astronomical Drawings portfolios were sold to astronomy libraries and observatories as reference tools, but as early 20th-century advances in photographic technology allowed for more accurate and detailed depictions of the stars, planets, and phenomena, Trouvelot’s prints were discarded or sold to collectors. The Huntington’s set was acquired by collector Jay T. Last as part of his collection of graphic arts and social history, and then donated to The Huntington.

(Photo: Courtesy Jay T. Last Collection, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.)

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