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Archive for the ‘On this day’ Category

The Christian festival of Michaelmas, also known as the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, is celebrated in many parts of the world on September 29.

Michaelmas celebrates the story of Saint Michael defeating Satan, which is often depicted in the motif of Saint George and the Dragon, Saint George being the Archangel Michael’s earthly counterpart. The earliest depictions of this story go all the way back to the 10th century. The images of Saint George fighting the dragon in the Artstor Digital Library span centuries. (more…)

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Various authors including Lambert le Tort, Alexandre de Bernai (de Paris), and others, Romance of Alexander; Folio #: fol. 130r, 1338-1344. Image and original data provided by the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

Various authors including Lambert le Tort, Alexandre de Bernai (de Paris), and others, Romance of Alexander; Folio #: fol. 130r, 1338-1344. Image and original data provided by the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Lunar New Year! The Chinese Year of the Goat begins February 19, 2015 and lasts through March 5, 2015.

You might see references to this being the year of the sheep, or even of the ram. This stems from the fact that the Chinese use one character (yang in Mandarin) for these three different horned animals, but it seems that the goat is the prefered choice by the majority of Chinese people.

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Aubrey Beardsley, Le Morte D'Arthur; "La Beale Isoud at Joyous Gard", 1893. Image and catalog data provided by Allan T. Kohl, Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Aubrey Beardsley, Le Morte D’Arthur; “La Beale Isoud at Joyous Gard”, 1893. Image and catalog data provided by Allan T. Kohl, Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Aubrey Beardsley was born on August 21, 1872. Despite dying of tuberculosis at the young age of twenty-five in 1898, the artist managed to have a brilliant career full of controversy and scandal. He shot to fame with his illustrations for Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur in 1893, and then became notorious for his illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s Salome (1894).

Recurring images throughout his career follow two seemingly incongruous paths. There is an emphasis on sly, clever wickedness; a youthful disregard for propriety; and an interest in the perverse and profane. Overlapping imagery of melancholia and death lead the second path. These two broad and inconsistent currents each render distinct images of the same artist who was drawn to scandal and associated himself with the 1890s Symbolist crowd often scorned by the arts elite and general public alike.

The images in this post come from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and George Eastman House collections in the Artstor Digital Library.

– Elizabeth Darocha Berenz

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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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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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