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,

Some stories we’ve been reading this week:

Art comes to life

In Orange County there are few traditions as long-running as the Pageant of the Masters, a two-month-long display devoted to “living pictures” in which costumed actors pose as well-known works of art. Here’s why it’s worth a serious look.

And from living pictures we move to a picture that turns to life in this short from 1901, featuring one of the earliest instances of special effects.

The artist’s essence

Recent studies suggest that “art is seen as imbued with the person’s soul/essence,” which might explain why original artworks move us more than reproductions.

It also makes one wonder about how we interpret forgeries. Here’s an interactive feature that allows you to compare a prolific forger’s handiwork with the originals.

Reshuffling the Classics

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts has reorganized its Greek ancient art collection from chronological order to three themes.

And speaking of ancient Greeks, the Philogelo is an ancient collection of jokes written in Greek probably dating to the fifth century A.D. – though some of its gags go back centuries earlier. Here are the three funniest, according to a totally unscientific poll.