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Archive for the ‘Humanities & Social Sciences’ Category

On July 14, we celebrated the storming of the Bastille, the momentous day in 1789 that marked the beginning of the French Revolution, and the beginning of the end of the monarchy.

While it is a day revered by the citoyens of France, it has come to symbolize the declining fortunes of the king and his once celebrated and later reviled wife, Marie Antoinette.

Anonymous French printmaker | Coiffure of Independence or The Triumph of Liberty | c. 1778 | Musée national de la coopération franco-américaine

Anonymous French printmaker | Coiffure of Independence or The Triumph of Liberty | c. 1778 | Musée national de la coopération franco-américaine | Photographer: Gérard Blot. Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y. artres.com

History has revised the narrative of the Queen whose apocryphal utterance “let them eat cake” allegedly flaunted her disregard for her starving subjects.

Beginning with the nineteenth-century biography by the Goncourt brothers, and the insightful study of Zweig (1932), and culminating in recent portrayals, notably Coppola’s film of 2006, and Thomas’ chronicle of Marie Antoinette’s final days, Farewell, My Queen (published in 2003 and released as a film in 2012), characterizations of the monarch have softened and become more nuanced.

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Maurice Prendergast, Bastille Day; Le Quatorze Juillet, 1892. Image and data from The Cleveland Museum of Art

Maurice Prendergast, Bastille Day; Le Quatorze Juillet, 1892. Image and data from The Cleveland Museum of Art

No matter where you were in the U.S. this Fourth of July, you probably had the opportunity to enjoy the Independence Day fireworks. Next week will be the turn for our friends in France to enjoy their revolution celebration with fireworks. Bastille Day, or Le quatorze juillet, commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris on July 14, 1789. The capture of the prison marked the beginning of the French Revolution and the end of Louis XVI’s absolute monarchy. Three years later the First Republic was born.

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Visitors viewing display cases and Bird Dome, Hall of the Birds of the World, 1927, American Museum of Natural History, Photographer: H. S. Rice. Image and original data provided by Library, American Museum of Natural History

Visitors viewing display cases and Bird Dome, Hall of the Birds of the World, 1927, American Museum of Natural History, Photographer: H. S. Rice. Image and original data provided by Library, American Museum of Natural History

Visiting the Museum of Natural History was high on my list of priorities on my first trip to New York City. This was in big part due to its mention in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye—even if, to be honest, I didn’t quite remember the role it played in the book.

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Ray De Lucia and Matt Kalmenoff working on Killer Whale Group, Hall of Ocean Life, 1967, American Museum of Natural History, Photographer: Alex J. Rota. Image and original data provided by Library, American Museum of Natural History

Ray De Lucia and Matt Kalmenoff working on Killer Whale Group, Hall of Ocean Life, 1967, American Museum of Natural History, Photographer: Alex J. Rota. Image and original data provided by Library, American Museum of Natural History

Artstor Digital Library and the American Museum of Natural History have released 1,700 images of objects from the Museum’s Division of Anthropology and historical photographs from the Research Library’s Photo Archive.

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) is one of the world’s preeminent scientific and cultural institutions. Since its foundation in 1869, the Museum has advanced its global mission to discover, interpret, and disseminate information about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe through a wide-ranging program of scientific research, education, and exhibition. (more…)

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Deir Mar Musa; exterior | 11th -13th century |Damascus | Photographer: James J. O'Donnell

Deir Mar Musa; exterior | 11th -13th century | Damascus | Photographer: James J. O’Donnell

Artstor and Georgetown University’s James J. O’Donnell are collaborating to share 21 images of Deir Mar Musa, a monastic compound north of Damascus, in the Digital Library.

Deir Mar Musa began as a Byzantine watchtower, served as a medieval hermitage and modern monastery, fell into disrepair and neglect, and was then brought back to life a few years ago as a monastic community and place for Christian and Muslim Syrians to meet in mutual respect. O’Donnell’s photographs document the site and its murals, which date ca. 11th-13th centuries.

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Carter Medicine Company | Carter's Little Nerve Pills | 19th century | Cornell: Oskar Diethelm Library for the History of Psychiatry

Carter Medicine Company | Carter’s Little Nerve Pills | 19th century | Cornell: Oskar Diethelm Library for the History of Psychiatry

At the beginning of the nineteenth century the prevailing medical belief that “the more dangerous the disease, the more painful the remedy” meant that bloodletting, purging, and blistering were often prescribed. Not surprisingly, this led to the development of a market in patent medicines promising painless cure-alls. Manufacturers used advertising cards to promote a world of pleasant medical fixes with friendly graphics and reassuring claims and testimonials. The ingredients in these patent medicines might have been as harmful as the illness, but they were more tempting than the agonizing solutions offered by doctors.

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Exhibition: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk | Exhibition on view: November 13, 2011-February 12, 2012 | Exhibition Location: Dallas Museum of Art; dma.org

Exhibition: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk | Exhibition on view: November 13, 2011-February 12, 2012 | Exhibition Location: Dallas Museum of Art; dma.org

Since its opening in 2011 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the haute couture and prêt-à-porter designs in “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: from the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” have been electrifying audiences in Montreal, Stockholm, Brooklyn, and Dallas—and now, London.

Designer: Jean Paul Gaultier | Two Ensembles; Group | Fall/Winter 1994-1995 | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art; metmuseum.org

Designer: Jean Paul Gaultier | Two Ensembles; Group | Fall/Winter 1994-1995 | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art; metmuseum.org

I had the opportunity to see the exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum this past March. I’m no fashionista, but I could certainly appreciate the craftsmanship and creativity of an absurdly talented artist. Credit is also due to the curator, Thierry-Maxime Loriot. I admittedly rarely read museum labels, but I was so impressed and eager to learn more that I read all of the wall text. All of it.

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Neo-Babylonian | Ishtar Gate | 604-562 BCE | Berlin State Museum | Vorderasiatisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin | Image and original data provided by Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz; bpkgate.picturemaxx.com/webgate_cms

Neo-Babylonian | Ishtar Gate | 604-562 BCE | Berlin State Museum | Vorderasiatisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin | Image and original data provided by Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz; bpkgate.picturemaxx.com/webgate_cms

Travelers to ancient Babylon were met with an astonishing sight: a gate nearly 50 feet high and 100 feet wide made of jewel-like blue glazed bricks and adorned with bas-relief dragons and young bulls. Dedicated to Ishtar, goddess of fertility, love, and war, the main entrance to the city was constructed for King Nebuchadnezzar II circa 575 BCE.

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artstor_logo_rgb2Artstor and Thomas McGovern are collaborating to share approximately 100 photographs from the artist’s series covering the AIDS crisis.

The photographs, taken between 1987 and 1997, portray individuals with AIDS and activist demonstrations in the U.S. “While I have photographed many aspects of the crisis since 1987, it is the portraits of people with AIDS that are central to the project and it is around these that the other photos of events revolve,” McGovern writes.

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Byron Company | Madison Square |1896 | Museum of the City of New York | mcny.org

Byron Company | Madison Square |1896 | Museum of the City of New York | mcny.org

In an unusual event, temperatures dropped below freezing in all 50 states Tuesday after a polar vortex swept southwards. As NBC New York explains, “The polar vortex forms every year to the north, but large blocks of high pressure over Greenland and the Southwest weakened the jet stream in recent days, allowing part of the polar vortex to break off from a parent system and dip in to the US.”

While the worst of it is over, we highly recommend you stay indoors and just look at winter images:

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