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Blog Category: Highlights

May 1, 2015

Game of Thrones and the House of Artstor

Fortress of Carcassonne, Carcassonne, France, 1150. Built by Bernard Anton Trencavel; fortified by Simon de Montfort; restored by Eugene Viollet-le-Duc. Image and original data provided by Shmuel Magal, Sites and Photos; sites-and-photos.com

Fortress of Carcassonne, Carcassonne, France, 1150. Built by Bernard Anton Trencavel; fortified by Simon de Montfort; restored by Eugene Viollet-le-Duc. Image and original data provided by Shmuel Magal, Sites and Photos; sites-and-photos.com

Yes, of course we’re watching Game of Thrones. The TV series based on a still unfinished (!) series of books by George R. R. Martin brings a new meaning to the word epic.

With more than 40 main cast members and complicated storylines for each, it’s a wonder anyone can keep track of what’s going on. Set in a distant land during the Middle Ages, this show has betrayals, dragons, knights, and a nail-biting struggle for power. It’s so rich with imagery that we were inspired to dive into the Artstor Digital Library to illustrate it.

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April 2, 2015

Hopping through cultures: the rabbit in art

Albrecht Dürer, Hare (A Young Hare), 1502, Graphische Sammlung Albertina. Image and original data: Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Albrecht Dürer, Hare (A Young Hare), 1502, Graphische Sammlung Albertina. Image and original data: Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Easter is around the corner, and with it comes the inevitable barrage of images of the Easter bunny. The strange thing is that the only mentions of rabbits in the Bible are prohibitions against eating them in the Old Testament. So what gives?

The underlying idea is that rabbits are connected to the idea of rebirth—not only do they reproduce prodigiously, at one time they were believed to reproduce asexually. The connection of rabbits to rebirth also occurs in non-Christian societies: The Rabbit in the Moon (instead of our Man in the Moon) is a familiar symbol in Asia, and was part of Aztec legend, tying the idea of rabbits to a “rebirth” every night. But other qualities of rabbits and hares also get highlighted in folklore, including their mischievous side, playing the role of cunning tricksters in Native American and Central African mythologies.

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January 15, 2015

The Top Ten Posts of 2014

We had another busy year at the Artstor Blog, with 161,000 visits in 2014. What were people clicking on? Here’s the list of the top ten most popular posts from last year:

  1. From Babylon to Berlin: The rebirth of the Ishtar Gate
  2. Finding the phenomenal women in fine art
  3. Dürer and the elusive rhino
  4. The travels and travails of the Mona Lisa
  5. The Museum of Natural History in The Catcher in the Rye
  6. Now available: Masterworks from the Berlin State Museums
  7. IFA Archaeological Project at Abydos: Shared Shelf in action
  8. Michelangelo, Raphael, and the Swiss Guard uniforms
  9. Après la Bastille: the changing fortunes of Marie Antoinette
  10. Reginald Marsh’s Coney Island

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November 4, 2014

Michelangelo, Raphael, and the Swiss Guard uniforms

Raphael, Stanza di Eliodoro (Expulsion of Heliodorus), 1511-12, Vatican. Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; www.artres.com; scalarchives.com; (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Raphael, Stanza di Eliodoro (Expulsion of Heliodorus), 1511-12, Vatican. Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; www.artres.com; scalarchives.com; (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

With the recent news that the Vatican’s Swiss Guard is releasing a book of recipes, I’m again hearing the myth, perpetuated by Dan Brown among others, that Michelangelo designed the uniforms of the Guard at the behest of his patron, Julius II.

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October 6, 2014

Holding dolls at arm’s length

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Byron Company, New York Association for the Blind, Two Children at Table, 1933. Museum of the City of New York

When I was a child in the mere single digits, my family sat down to a Twilight Zone marathon. It was my first time watching the show, and I was introduced to aliens, pig people, post-apocalyptic towns, and, most frightening of all, dolls that came to life.

It was the ventriloquist dummy and the chatty doll that gave me nightmares. Just remembering the line “My name is Talky Tina and I don’t think I like you” still gives me shivers. There’s something about those inanimate objects with their stiff movements, glassy eyes, and blank faces that creeps me out.

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September 2, 2014

Together again: the complete “Migration” series by Jacob Lawrence

Jacob Lawrence, The Migration of the Negro Panel no. 3: In every town Negroes were leaving by the hundreds to go North and enter into Northern industry, 1940 – 1941. Image and original data provided by The Phillips Collection, © 2005 Estate of Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence / Artists Rights Society (ARS)

Jacob Lawrence, The Migration of the Negro Panel no. 3: In every town Negroes were leaving by the hundreds to go North and enter into Northern industry, 1940 – 1941. Image and original data provided by The Phillips Collection, © 2005 Estate of Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence / Artists Rights Society (ARS)

Jacob Lawrence painted “The Migration of the Negro,” a series of 60 small panels describing the passage of African-Americans from the rural South to the urban North, in 1940 and 1941. The works combined the vibrancy of modernism, the content of history painting, and the urgency of political art. The electrifying results catapulted the young artist into fame and the history books.

Lawrence saw the series as a single work, but a year after its completion the Museum of Modern Art acquired the even-numbered pictures and the Phillips Collection in Washington the others, and opportunities to see all the paintings together have been rare. Which is a pity. As art critic Holland Cotter wrote in The New York Times“…only in the complete series can we fully grasp the sinewy moral texture of art that is in the business of neither easy uplift nor single-minded protest.”

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July 7, 2014

Celebrating the storming of the Bastille

Maurice Prendergast, Bastille Day; Le Quatorze Juillet, 1892. Image and data from The Cleveland Museum of Art

Maurice Prendergast, Bastille Day; Le Quatorze Juillet, 1892. Image and data from The Cleveland Museum of Art

No matter where you were in the U.S. this Fourth of July, you probably had the opportunity to enjoy the Independence Day fireworks. Now it’s our friends’ turn in France to enjoy their revolution celebration with fireworks. Bastille Day, or Le quatorze juillet, commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris on July 14, 1789. The capture of the prison marked the beginning of the French Revolution and the end of Louis XVI’s absolute monarchy. Three years later the First Republic was born.

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April 17, 2014

Beyond Fabergé’s Easter eggs

Peter Carl Fabergé; Henrick Wigström, (Workmaster) | The Rose Trellis Easter Egg | 1907 | The Walters Art Museum

Peter Carl Fabergé; Henrick Wigström, (Workmaster) | The Rose Trellis Easter Egg | 1907 | The Walters Art Museum

As we get close to Easter, you’re sure to run into at least a few mentions of the renowned Fabergé eggs. And rightly so, as these decorative objects are ingenious and rich with history. But did you know there is much more to Fabergé than just eggs?

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April 14, 2014

Gaultier in Artstor – not just for fashionistas

Exhibition: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk | Exhibition on view: November 13, 2011-February 12, 2012 | Exhibition Location: Dallas Museum of Art; dma.org

Exhibition: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk | Exhibition on view: November 13, 2011-February 12, 2012 | Exhibition Location: Dallas Museum of Art; dma.org

Since its opening in 2011 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the haute couture and prêt-à-porter designs in “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: from the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” have been electrifying audiences in Montreal, Stockholm, Brooklyn, and Dallas—and now, London.

Designer: Jean Paul Gaultier | Two Ensembles; Group | Fall/Winter 1994-1995 | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art; metmuseum.org

Designer: Jean Paul Gaultier | Two Ensembles; Group | Fall/Winter 1994-1995 | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art; metmuseum.org

I had the opportunity to see the exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum this past March. I’m no fashionista, but I could certainly appreciate the craftsmanship and creativity of an absurdly talented artist. Credit is also due to the curator, Thierry-Maxime Loriot. I admittedly rarely read museum labels, but I was so impressed and eager to learn more that I read all of the wall text. All of it.

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