From Darkness to Light: Writers in Museums 1798-1898 - cover image


Rosella Mamoli Zorzi; Katherine Manthorne

Published On





  • English

Print Length

392 pages (xviii+374)


Paperback156 x 27 x 234 mm(6.14" x 1.07" x 9.21")
Hardback156 x 30 x 234 mm(6.14" x 1.19" x 9.21")


Paperback1636g (57.71oz)
Hardback2033g (71.71oz)



OCLC Number





  • WTHM
  • A
  • AB
  • AG


  • ART000000
  • ART059000
  • ARC007010


  • NK2115.5.L5


  • museum lighting
  • exhibition spaces
  • America
  • Japan
  • Western Europe
  • nineteenth century
  • twentieth century
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From Darkness to Light

Writers in Museums 1798-1898

From Darkness to Light explores from a variety of angles the subject of museum lighting in exhibition spaces in America, Japan, and Western Europe throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Written by an array of international experts, these collected essays gather perspectives from a diverse range of cultural sensibilities. From sensitive discussions of Tintoretto’s unique approach to the play of light and darkness as exhibited in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice, to the development of museum lighting as part of Japanese artistic self-fashioning, via the story of an epic American painting on tour, museum illumination in the work of Henry James, and lighting alterations at Chatsworth (to name only a few topics) this book is a treasure trove of illuminating contributions. The collection is at once a refreshing insight for the enthusiastic museum-goer, who is brought to an awareness of the exhibit in its immediate environment, and a wide-ranging scholarly compendium for the professional who seeks to proceed in their academic or curatorial work with a more enlightened sense of the lighted space.


Based on a conference in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice, in 2016, this compilation of essays covers interrelated subjects chiefly focused on the introduction of artificial lighting in museum galleries, and writers’ reactions to it at different sites in Europe and America

Stephen Wildman

"From Darkness to Light: Writers in Museums 1798–1898. Edited by Rosella Mamoli Zorzi and Katherine Manthorne". The Burlington Magazine (0007-6287), vol. 161, no. 1400, 2019.

Table of Contents


Notes on Contributors

Introduction: From Darkness to Light: Writers in Museums 1798–1898

Rosella Mamoli Zorzi and Katherine Manthorne

Part I: On Light

1. Tintoretto: An Unexpected Light. Lightnings, Haloes, Embers and Other Glowing Lights.

Melania G. Mazzucco

2. The Artificial Lighting Available to European and American Museums, 1800–1915

David E. Nye

Part II: On Light at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco and in Venice

3. Tintoretto in San Rocco Between Light and Darkness

Maria Agnese Chiari Moretto Wiel

4. John Ruskin and Henry James in the Enchanting Darkness of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco

Rosella Mamoli Zorzi

5. Light at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco

Demetrio Sonaglioni

6. The Light in the Venice Ducal Palace

Camillo Tonini

7. Latent in Darkness: John Ruskin’s Virtual Guide to the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice

Emma Sdegno

8. Venice, Art and Light in French Literature: 1831–1916

Cristina Beltrami

Part III: On Light in American Museums

9. One Hundred Gems of Light: The Peale Family Introduces Gaslight to America

Burton K. Kummerow

10. Illuminating the Big Picture: Frederic Church’s Heart of the Andes Viewed by Writers

Katherine Manthorne

11. Italian Genius in American Light: The James Jackson Jarves Collection at Yale

Kathleen Lawrence

12. Shedding Light on the History of Lighting at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Holly Salmon

13. Seeing Beauty: Light and Design at the Freer Gallery, ca. 1923

Lee Glazer

Part IV: On Light in Museum and Mansions in England, France, and Spain

14. Lighting up the Darkness: The National Gallery, London

Sarah Quill

15. Sir John Soane

Helen Dorey

16. Chatsworth, a Modern English Mansion

Marina Coslovi

17. Daylight and Gold: In the Galleries With Henry James

Paula Deitz

18. Remarks on Illumination in Nineteenth-Century American Travel Writings on Madrid’s Prado Museum

Pere Gifra-Adroher

Part V: On Light in Italian Museums

19. To Look (and to See) in the Nineteenth Century: At the Uffizi and Elsewhere

Cristina Acidini

20. Ways of Perceiving: The Passionate Pilgrims’ Gaze in Nineteenth-Century Italy

Margherita Ciacci

21. ‘In the Quiet Hours and the Deep Dusk, These Things too Recovered Their Advantage’: Henry James on Light in European Museums

Joshua Parker

22. ‘Shedding Light on Old Italian Masters’: Timothy Cole’s Series for the Century

Page S. Knox

23. ‘Into the Broad Sunlight’: Anne Hampton Brewster’s Chronicle of Gilded Age Rome

Adrienne Baxter Bell

Part VI: On Light in Museums in Japan

24. In Praise of Shadows: Ernest Fenollosa and the Origins of Japanese Museum Culture

Dorsey Kleitz and Sandra Lucore


25. Premonitions: Shakespeare to James

Sergio Perosa

26. The Museum on Stage: From Plato’s Myth to Today’s Perception

Alberto Pasetti Bombardella

27. Time and Light

Antonio Foscari


List of Illustrations


Rosella Mamoli Zorzi

Professor of American Literature, Emeritus at Ca' Foscari University of Venice

Katherine Manthorne

Professor of Art History, Graduate Center at City University of New York