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Archive for the ‘On this day’ Category

Diego Velázquez | The Toilet of Venus ('The Rokeby Venus') | 1647-51 | The National Gallery, London | Photograph: ©The National Gallery, London; nationalgallery.org.uk

Diego Velázquez | The Toilet of Venus (‘The Rokeby Venus’) | 1647-51 | The National Gallery, London | Photograph: ©The National Gallery, London; nationalgallery.org.uk

One hundred years ago today, suffragist Mary Richardson walked into the National Gallery, London and attacked Diego Velázquez’s The Toilet of Venus (AKA The Rokeby Venus) with a meat cleaver. Richardson was protesting the arrest of fellow suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst the previous day.

Detail from a 1914 photograph showing damage to the painting. Image source: Wikipedia.

1914 photograph showing damage to the painting. Image source: Wikipedia.

You can see the impressive results of the National Gallery‘s restoration by searching for Velazquez Toilet of Venus in the Artstor Digital Library and zooming in to compare against the slashes in the image to the right. While the texture of the paint doesn’t betray the repairs, if you look carefully you can detect very slight yellowing on Venus’s skin along the cuts.

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William M. Vander Weyde | Ice Skating | ca. 1900 | George Eastman House

William M. Vander Weyde | Ice Skating | ca. 1900 | George Eastman House

It’s snowing today in New York City and crowds are lining up to skate at the legendary ice rink at Rockefeller Center, with its sparkling light displays and famous holiday tree. If I visit this year, it’ll be as a spectator only, since I’ve never ice skated in my life. Sad, I know, but I have a good excuse—I grew up in extremely warm areas of Mexico and Texas, so I didn’t have many opportunities to learn. But that doesn’t stop me from admiring skaters. I love their graceful gliding, and enjoy seeing the camaraderie that spontaneously develops when groups of people converge on the ice. Evidently I’m not alone, judging from the many depictions of skating groups in the Artstor Digital Library.

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  Designer: Jean-Antoine Lepine; Painter: Joseph Coteau, | Astronomical Mantel Timepiece | about 1789 | Image and data from: The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Collection


Designer: Jean-Antoine Lepine; Painter: Joseph Coteau, | Astronomical Mantel Timepiece | about 1789 | Image and data from: The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Collection

Daylight Saving Time ended last night, which gives you an extra hour today to enjoy our slideshow of beautiful clocks and watches.

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French | Mata Hari performing Brahmanic dances in the library of the Musée Guimet, Paris | 13 March 1905 | Musée Guimet  | Réunion des Musées Nationaux (RMN)

French | Mata Hari performing Brahmanic dances in the library of the Musée Guimet, Paris | 13 March 1905 | Musée Guimet | Réunion des Musées Nationaux (RMN)

On this day in 1917, the exotic dancer known as Mata Hari was sentenced to death in France for spying for Germany during World War I.

Born in the Netherlands, Gertruida Margueretha Zelle moved to Paris in 1903 and began performing as a dancer under the name Mata Hari. She claimed to be a princess from Java trained in the art of sacred Indian dance. Her claims were taken at face value and her exotic dancing became very popular across Europe. The images here captures her at the height of her fame.

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Egyptian | Priestly Decree inscribed in the Greek, Demotic and Hieroglyphic Scripts, called the Rosetta Stone; Detail | 196 BCE | British Museum, United Kingdom | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

Egyptian | Priestly Decree inscribed in the Greek, Demotic and Hieroglyphic Scripts, called the Rosetta Stone; Detail | 196 BCE | British Museum, United Kingdom | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

Egyptian | Priestly Decree inscribed in the Greek, Demotic and Hieroglyphic Scripts, called the Rosetta Stone | 196 BCE | British Museum, United Kingdom | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

Egyptian | Priestly Decree inscribed in the Greek, Demotic and Hieroglyphic Scripts, called the Rosetta Stone | 196 BCE | British Museum, United Kingdom | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

On this day in 1799, during Napoleon’s occupation of Egypt, a French soldier discovered a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the Egyptian town of Rosetta (el-Rashid). The stone contained fragments of passages written in ancient Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and Egyptian demotic. The section in Greek revealed that the three scripts shared the same content, which provided the key to understanding hieroglyphics, the knowledge of which had disappeared after the end of the fourth century AD.

The Rosetta Stone is a fragment of a larger stele, and none of the three texts is complete. But building upon the work of other scholars, French Egyptologist Jean-Francois Champollion was able to crack the code and decipher the hieroglyphics in 1822, opening the doors to understanding the history and culture of ancient Egypt.

This image comes to us from the Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives collection. View the painting in the ARTstor Digital Library, and remember to zoom in to see the scripts in close detail.

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Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec | La Chaine Simpson (bicycle chains), 1896 | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.;  artres.com

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec | La Chaine Simpson (bicycle chains), 1896 | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

May is National Bike Month! Did you know that there are more than a billion bicycles worldwide? Perhaps more surprisingly, the basic configuration of a bicycle hasn’t changed much from the chain-driven model developed around 1885.

Amed T. Thibault | Bicycle, Livery, Carriage, and Paint Shop Trade Sign, 1895-1905 | American Folk Art Museum; folkartmuseum.org

Amed T. Thibault | Bicycle, Livery, Carriage, and Paint Shop Trade Sign, 1895-1905 | American Folk Art Museum; folkartmuseum.org

The first pedal-propelled bicycle was reputedly invented by Kirkpatrick MacMillan in Scotland in 1839. While not everyone agrees on his breakthrough, it is widely accepted that MacMillan was the first person to be charged with a cycling traffic offense in 1842 after he was fined five shillings for knocking over a little girl.

In the early 1860s, bicycle design was improved in France by a crank drive with pedals and a larger front wheel that allowed the rider to travel farther with every rotation of the pedals. The model soon developed into the “penny-farthing,” which boasted wheels with solid rubber tires mounted on a tubular steel frame. While certainly formidable-looking, the high placement of the seat and the poor weight distribution made it difficult to ride.

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Marinus van Reymerswaele | Tax Collector and His Wife | c. 1540 | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

Marinus van Reymerswaele | Tax Collector and His Wife | c. 1540 | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

Since 1955, Tax Day has typically fallen on April 15 for those living in the United States. You might derive some comfort from knowing that your feelings today were not unknown in the 16th century, as evidenced in these three Netherlandish paintings of tax collectors by Marinus van Reymerswaele from the Art, Archaeology and Architecture (Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives) collection in the ARTstor Digital Library.

Incidentally, we’re puzzled by the ornate hats, which presumably were part of the profession’s costume. If you know anything about them, please leave a comment below. If you’re not too busy filing your taxes at the last minute, of course.

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Vincent van Gogh | Sower | 1888 | Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

Vincent van Gogh | Sower | 1888 | Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

It’s time to spring forward this weekend! Daylight Saving Time starts at 2AM Sunday morning, don’t forget to set your clock ahead one hour before you go to bed tonight. We made this slide show of beautiful clocks and watches to help you remember.

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Richard Morris Hunt and McKim, Mead and White, original building; Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo and Associates, renovations | Metropolitan Museum of Art; interior, Leon Levy and Shelby White Court | original building completed 1902; renovation completed 2011|New York, New York |Photographer: Ralph Lieberman

Richard Morris Hunt and McKim, Mead and White, original building; Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo and Associates, renovations | Metropolitan Museum of Art; interior, Leon Levy and Shelby White Court | original building completed 1902; renovation completed 2011|New York, New York |Photographer: Ralph Lieberman

Happy 141st birthday to the Metropolitan Museum of Art! The Museum opened its doors to the public on February 20, 1872 (some 30 blocks below its current location). Today the Met is the largest art museum in the United States, boasting more than two million works in its permanent collection.

ARTstor is proud to collaborate with the Museum in sharing three collections in the Digital Library: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with an excellent selection of almost 10,000 images from the permanent collection; The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Brooklyn Museum Costumes, with nearly 6,000 images of American and European costumes and accessories formerly in the Brooklyn Museum; and The Metropolitan Museum of Art: William Keighley, featuring nearly 4,000 images of European art and architecture, as well as photographs of the Met itself and the Met’s Cloisters museum and gardens. Additionally, in 2007, ARTstor and The Metropolitan Museum of Art launched Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) offering scholars high-resolution images for publication free of charge; the Museum currently makes almost 13,000 images available through the program.

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Kitagawa Utamaro | Rat Snake with Dayflower Plant | January 1788 | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Kitagawa Utamaro | Rat Snake with Dayflower Plant | January 1788 | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Happy Lunar New Year! The Chinese Year of the Snake begins February 10, 2013 and lasts through January 30, 2014.

The traditional Chinese calendar is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements; the year begins with the night of the first new moon of the lunar New Year and ends on the 15th day. The Chinese zodiac follows a 12-year cycle that relates each year to an animal and its attributes. People born under the snake sign are considered wise, thoughtful, and calculating (although the negative connotations of the snake also present some problems, according to this article in the Wall Street Journal).

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