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Frances Terpak photographs of Romanesque architecture and sculpture in southern France and northern Spain, 1977-1989, undated

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Terpak (Frances) Photographs of Romanesque Architecture and Sculpture in Southern France and Northern Spain

Biographical/Historical Note

Frances Terpak studied art history at the Pennsylvania State University (BA 1970, MA 1972). A student of Jan van der Meulen, she wrote her master's thesis on the iconography of the Incarnation portal on the west facade of Chartres Cathedral. Terpak continued her study of medieval art at Yale University, completing her dissertation, "The Romanesque Architecture and Sculpture of Saint Caprais in Agen," in 1982. During this period of her studies, Terpak also proved to be an extremely skilled photographer. Following in the scholar-photographer role of her mentor Meulen, Terpak understood precisely what an art historian needed to see in a documentary study photograph - the framing, shot angle, focus, depth of field and lighting - and unlike most art historians, she had the photographic skill to actually capture that image.

After completing her degree, Terpak pursued this intersection of photography and the study of art history. In 1983, she joined the staff of the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities (now the Getty Research Institute), which was building one of the largest photographic archives for research in the fine arts in the United States. Terpak was brought in to oversee the expansion of its holdings into medieval art and architecture, and under her guidance this section grew to over a quarter million photographic prints. At the same time, she continued to publish and lecture on French Romanesque sculpture. Terpak is currently curator of photographs at the Getty Research Institute.

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