Victor Hugo, Vianden Seen through a Spider Web

Victor Hugo, Vianden Seen through a Spider Web, 1871. Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y.;

Some stories we’ve been reading this month:

Visual arts

  • Artists’ model Jane Morris served as muse to the Pre-Raphaelites, married one and became the undying love of another–and was a fascinating person all around.
  • Zoos make money selling paintings made by animals. Are they art?
  • For unknown reasons, René Magritte cut up a painting into four pieces and reused the canvas for new works. Conservators recently discovered one of the pieces–but there’s still one missing.
  • Paul Klee’s response to crashing fighter planes during WWI was, uh, unique.
  • One of the leading experts on Degas has changed his long-held (and combative!) stance and now thinks that a long-disputed plaster of the artist’s “Little Dancer” is indeed an earlier model of the famous sculpture.
  • Not sure which of the stories behind this hyper-realistic sculpture is true, but it doesn’t matter because the piece itself is unbelievable.
  • Is Edward Hopper’s gloomy painting Nighthawks optimistic? Watch the video.



  • A decorated floor uncovered in the buried ruins of an ancient synagogue in Israel may depict a legendary meeting with Alexander the Great. Even if it’s not Alexander, the mysterious mosaic itself is great.
  • Archaeologists at Turkey’s neolithic site of Çatalhöyük have unearthed an intact complete female figurine.
  • Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Museum installed a monumental statue of Athena Parthenos from Pergamon on special loan from the collection of the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Watch how they did it.