Robert Howlett, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, builder of the Great Eastern, ca. 1857-1858. George Eastman House,

Photographer: Robert Howlett | Isambard Kingdom Brunel, builder of the Great Eastern | ca. 1857-1858 | George Eastman House,

Here are some stories from around the Web that we’ve been reading this week:

What makes a masterpiece?
What makes the Mona Lisa a masterpiece–Is it the mysterious smile? The innovative composition? The chiaroscuro and the sfumato? Perhaps. Or maybe it’s a matter of the “mere-exposure effect” and “cumulative advantage.”

Color test 
Art history majors, could you recognize an artwork by its colors? Take the Tate’s color palette challenge to find out. We didn’t score too well–we guessed all of them were Damien Hirst spot paintings.

Royal doghouse
We love this wonderful collection of 18th-century doghouses, particularly the one stamped with the mark of Marie Antoinette’s royal furniture maker. (You did read our recent post about Marie Antoinette herself, right?)

Goo goo goo joob
The walrus as you’ve never seen it, depicted by artists who had never seen one. (Pair this with our own blog post about Dürer’s inaccurate rhino.)

Which way is up?
Some of the earliest Egyptian maps show the south as up, while there was a time in the middle ages when most European maps featured the east on top. So how did the north end up on top?

Chivalry rebooted
Artist Becca Lofchie and the Getty Museum’s Education Department started The Chivalry Project for children to record the ways in which chivalry manifests (or should) in the contemporary world. A personal favorite: “Always be nice to coworkers. Even when they are irritating (and have bad ideas).”