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Archive for the ‘Renaissance, Baroque Art & Architecture in Europe’ Category

Katsushika Hokusai, Soccer, early 19th century, Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Berlin State Museums. Image and original data provided by Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz bpkgate.picturemaxx.com

Katsushika Hokusai, Soccer, early 19th century, Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Berlin State Museums. Image and original data provided by Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz
bpkgate.picturemaxx.com

By all accounts, Americans are becoming enthusiastic about soccer in unprecedented numbers. Rumor even has it that a handful of Artstor employees may have sneaked into a conference room yesterday to watch the US team confront Germany (though, when asked about the story, everyone seemed too busy with work to comment).

Of course, the game has long been popular around the world, as you can see from this slideshow of images ranging from the 17th to the 20th century, and from countries including Italy, France, Japan, Ghana, and yes, the United States.

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“It’s in the reach of my arms, / The span of my hips, / The stride of my step, / The curl of my lips. / I’m a woman/ Phenomenally. / Phenomenal woman, / That’s me.”

- Maya Angelou

Mickalene Thomas, Don't Forget About Me (Keri), 2009, exhibited at Lehmann Maupin, Spring 2009. Image and original data provided by Larry Qualls, © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / BILDKUNST, Bonn

Mickalene Thomas, Don’t Forget About Me (Keri), 2009, exhibited at Lehmann Maupin, Spring 2009. Image and original data provided by Larry Qualls, © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / BILDKUNST, Bonn

Women have long been used as inspiration for art. They have served as muses to both eastern and western culture, and our bodies have been used to represent the power and beauty of nature.

Yet the images of the female body that we see on a daily basis are often passive and hyper-sexualized. Women’s bodies are the go-to sales tactic in popular media and advertising. Yes, you might say, sex sells, but nothings sells as much as our sex sells. Women’s bodies sell beer, cars, perfume, burgers, chewing gum, and even animals rights (yes, you read that correctly – look up PETA’s campaigns) — and of course, the object that all of the women in these advertisements are ultimately selling is themselves.

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Raphael | Saint George and the Dragon | c. 1504 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

Raphael | Saint George and the Dragon | c. 1504 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

Carlo Crivelli | Saint George | ca. 1472 | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Carlo Crivelli | Saint George | ca. 1472 | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Saint George’s Day is celebrated on April 23. I know this because as a child I was obsessed with the world of make-believe. While my sister was collecting books on the natural sciences, I had a whole shelf devoted to children’s versions of Greek mythology, fairy tales, and folklore. The stories I loved best involved magic and monsters. To this day my mother will buy me used books if they have a dragon on the cover. And this is where Saint George comes in.

In the 13th century, Jacobus de Voragine wrote in The Golden Legend that Saint George was a Christian knight who in his travels came across a city called Silene that was being plagued by a dragon that lived in its pond. Silene’s inhabitants were forced to appease the monster by sacrificing their children. The victims were selected through a lottery system, and one day it was the king’s own daughter who drew the last lot.
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Edward Penfield | The French Peasant and His Donkey & Rooster | Ackland Art Museum (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

Edward Penfield | The French Peasant and His Donkey & Rooster | Ackland Art Museum (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

Artstor and the Ackland Art Museum at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill have collaborated to share more than 1,600 images from the Museum’s permanent collection in the Digital Library

This release is composed of prints from the 15th century to the present day, and it brings the current number of images to 4,200 of a projected total of 16,000.

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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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Albrecht Dürer |"Das Rhinocerus" | 1515 | Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; smb.museum

Albrecht Dürer |”Das Rhinocerus” | 1515 | Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; smb.museum

Albrecht Dürer created his famous woodcut of a rhinoceros in 1515 based on a written description and an anonymous sketch of an Indian rhino that had arrived in Lisbon earlier that year. The animal was intended as a gift for Pope Leo X from the king of Portugal, but it never reached its destination, perishing in a shipwreck off the coast of Italy.

Dürer’s image is less than accurate, depicting an animal covered with an armor of hard plates, scales on its feet, and a small spiral horn on its back. This is not exactly surprising, considering the artist never saw the actual specimen. What is surprising is that his depiction served as a scientific reference for centuries, despite the existence of a similar but more accurate print by Hans Burgkmair, also from 1515. The similarities between the two images suggest that Burgkmair may have also based his woodcut on the same anonymous sketch.

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Édouard Manet | Woman Lying on the Beach. Annabel Lee | About 1881 | Statens Museum for Kunst

Édouard Manet | Woman Lying on the Beach. Annabel Lee | About 1881 | Statens Museum for Kunst

Artstor and Statens Museum for Kunst have made available 160 images of highlights from the museum’s collections of Paintings and Sculptures and Graphic Art in the Digital Library. The release includes works by artists such as Lucas Cranach the Elder, Rembrandt, Christen Købke, Vilhelm Hammershøi, and Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg. The images are also made available for remix and reuse in both commercial and non-commercial purposes, for example for use in print publications, under a Creative Commons Attribution license. (more…)

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Some of the more controversial nudity in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment was painted over the year after the artist’s death. Those additions were left intact when the Last Judgment was restored in the 1990s, but thanks to a farsighted cardinal we can see what the fresco looked like before it was censored.

Left: Michelangelo Buonarroti | Last Judgment | 1534-41 | Sistine Chapel, Vatican. Right: Marcello Venusti | Last Judgment | Museo e gallerie nazionali di Capodimonte | Images and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Left: Michelangelo Buonarroti | Last Judgment | 1534-41 | Sistine Chapel, Vatican. Right: Marcello Venusti | Last Judgment | Museo e gallerie nazionali di Capodimonte | Images and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

The Last Judgment was commissioned for the Sistine Chapel by Pope Clement VII just a few days before his death. Michelangelo hadn’t even finished the fresco before controversy erupted over its unclothed figures.

Not long after the painting’s completion, the Council of Trent condemned nudity in religious art, decreeing that “all lasciviousness be avoided; in such wise that figures shall not be painted or adorned with a beauty exciting to lust.” Clement’s successor Pope Pius IV complied with the tenet, and in 1565, the year after Michelangelo’s death, had the more controversial nudity painted over by Daniele da Volterra, earning the artist the nickname Il Braghetonne, “the breeches-maker.” Da Volterra also substantially repainted the figures of Saint Catherine and Saint Blaise, whose positions were considered unseemly. Further coverings were added in the 17th and 18th centuries. (more…)

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Hans Holbein the Younger | Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve ('The Ambassadors') | 1533 | The National Gallery, London  | Photograph ©The National Gallery, London

Hans Holbein the Younger | Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve (‘The Ambassadors’) | 1533 | The National Gallery, London | Photograph ©The National Gallery, London

Hans Holbein the Younger’s “The Ambassadors” of 1533 memorializes Jean de Dinteville, French ambassador to England, and his friend, Georges de Selve, who acted on several occasions as French ambassador to the Republic of Venice, to the Pope in Rome, and to England, Germany, and Spain. The painting is well known for its anamorphic image of a skull in the foreground, but upon close perusal, the objects on the table between the two men prove just as fascinating.

The upper shelf, which is concerned with the the heavens, includes a celestial globe, a portable sundial, and various other instruments used for understanding the heavens and measuring time, while the lower shelf, which reflects the affairs of the world, holds musical instruments, a hymn book, a book of arithmetic, and a terrestrial globe. (more…)

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Mochica | Vessel with sea lion and feline(?) |  A.D. 500-750 | Image © Princeton University Art Museum

Mochica | Vessel with sea lion and feline(?) | A.D. 500-750 | Image © Princeton University Art Museum

The Princeton University Art Museum and ARTstor are now sharing approximately 600 images from the museum’s encyclopedic collections in the Digital Library. This is the first release of an approximately 10,000 projected images.

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