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Blog Category: On this day

May 26, 2012

On this day: Dorothea Lange is born

Dorothea Lange | The Road West | The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art |

Documentary photographer and photojournalist Dorothea Lange was born on May 26, 1895. Her photographs for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) depicted the human impact of the Great Depression and were tremendously influential, both politically and in the field of documentary photography.

Among her many other achievements, Lange received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1941, photographed the forced evacuation of Japanese Americans to relocation camps in 1942, and co-founded the photography magazine Aperture in 1952. She died on October 11, 1965.

This haunting photograph depicting highway U.S. 54, the west-bound route taken by many families who hoped to find work in California, comes to us from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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May 12, 2012

On this day: Dante Gabriel Rossetti is born

Dante Gabriel Rossetti | Lady Lilith, 1867 | The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Writer and artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti was born May 12, 1828 in London. Disenchanted with the formula-driven painting being produced by the Royal Academy, Rossetti founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. The Brotherhood embraced l’art pour l’art—art for art’s sake—and aimed to reform the art of their day by emulating the art of late medieval and early Renaissance Europe until the time of Raphael.

This gouache of Lady Lilith comes to us from The Metropolitan Museum of Art and carries an inscription in the back that reads “”Beware of her hair, for she excells (sic) / All women in the magic of her locks / And when she twines them round a young man’s neck / she will not ever set him free again” from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s never-completed translation of Goethe’s Faust. Search for Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the Artstor Digital Library to find dozens of more works by the highly-influential artist.

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May 9, 2012

On this day: The birth of Howard Carter, discoverer of Tutankhamun’s tomb

Funerary Mask of Tutankhamun, 1333-1323 BCE | Tomb of Tutankhamun, Valley of the Kings, Thebes| Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt | Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

On May 9, 1874, future archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter was born in London, England. Carter would find fame in 1922 upon discovering the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings. Search the ARTstor Digital Library for Tutankhamun to find images of many of the breath-taking treasures found in the tomb, including this funerary mask from Italian and other European Art (Scala Archives). Don’t miss H. Parkinson’s drawing of the contents of the tomb, from Plans of Ancient and Medieval Buildings and Archaeological Sites (Bryn Mawr College). When you’re done, check out Wikipedia’s eerie entry on the so-called “curse of the pharaohs.”

You may also be interested in: Unwinding mummies

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May 1, 2012

On this day: May Day

William Glackens | May Day, Central Park, circa 1905 | Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco | Image and data from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

May 1st, or May Day, celebrates the beginning of summer. The tradition has been manifested throughout different eras and cultures as the Roman festival of Flora, the Germanic Walpurgisnacht festival, and the Gaelic Beltane. It is also International Workers’ Day, in commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago.

This painting of May Day in Central Park by William Glackens comes to the ARTstor Digital Library from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Collection.

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April 21, 2012

On this day: The founding of Rome

She-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus, 16th century | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. /

Twin brothers Romulus and Remus founded Rome on April 21, 753 B.C. on the site where they were suckled by a she-wolf as orphaned infants.

Roman | Ara Casali | Museo Pio-Clementino | Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. / | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

According to the legend, the twins were the sons of Rhea Silvia and the war god Mars. Fearing that they would claim his throne, Rhea’s uncle Amulius ordered them drowned in the River Tiber. Thanks to help from the river deity Tiberinus, the twins were safely washed ashore at the foot of the Palatine hill, where they were suckled by a she-wolf. They were rescued by a shepherd, who raised them as his own. Once grown, the twins killed Amulus and went on to found a town on the site where they had been saved. After a disagreement on the exact location of the site, Romulus killed by his brother and became ruler of the settlement, which he named “Rome” after himself.

The image of the 16th century sculpture of the she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus comes to us from Art, Archaeology and Architecture (Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives), the Casali Altarpiece from the 2nd century C.E. comes from Italian and other European Art (Scala Archives), and Nicholas Mignard’s 17th century painting comes from the Dallas Museum of Art Collection. Search for Remus and Romulus to find many more related images, including the series of prints by Giambattista Fontana from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Collection.

Nicholas Mignard | The Shepherd Faustulus Bringing Romulus and Remus to His Wife, 1654 | Dallas Museum of Art | Image and data from the Dallas Museum of Art

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April 13, 2012

On this day: Friday the 13th

Hishida Shunso | Black Cat, 1910 | Eisei Bunko Foundation, Tokyo, Japan | Huntington Archive of Asian Art

Everyone knows that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day, right? According to Wikipedia, there is no record of this superstition existing before the late 19th century, and different cultures ascribe the unfortunate day to Tuesday the 13th or Friday the 17th. Meanwhile, many superstitions popular in the Middle Ages did not make it to our era. Visit the Illustrated Bartsch collection of Old Master European prints in the Digital Library and search within it for superstition to find some surprising beliefs, such as “Digging for Coal Upon Seeing a Swallow Guarantees Freedom from Fever and Headaches for a Year,” and “Man Encountering a Goose, a Good Omen for the Day.”

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April 12, 2012

On this day: The American Civil War begins

J.H. Bufford's Lith | Yankee volunteers marching into dixie--Yankee Doodle keep it up, Yankee Doodle dandy, ca. 1862 | Image and original data from: Virga, Vincent, and Curators of the Library of Congress, with commentary by Alan Brinkley (2004). Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States.

On April 12, 1861, Confederate shore batteries opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina; in response, President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern insurrection, marking the beginning of the American Civil War. The conflict had been building up for some time before the attack: Following Lincoln’s election the previous year, several Southern states had declared their secession and formed the Confederate States of America due to Lincoln’s anti-slavery stance. The ensuing war would last four years and result in more than a million deaths before the Union triumphed.

The ARTstor Digital Library has many collections that cover the Civil War. A particularly rich resource is Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States (Library of Congress), which provides a pictorial overview of American history. The collection includes Abraham Lincoln’s handwritten Emancipation Proclamation and hundreds of other Civil War-related images, including prints, maps, letters, photographs, and cartoons.

There are also two notable collections from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design that focus on the topic exclusively:  Century Magazine Illustrations of the American Civil War, featuring images depicting battle scenes and camp life, as well as details of weapons and uniforms; and Tenniel Civil War Cartoon Collection, John Tenniel’s full-page cartoons of the American Civil War in the British humor magazine Punch.

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March 19, 2012

On this day: Josef Albers is born

Josef Albers | Homage to the Square, 1968 | © 2008 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany, CT/Artists Rights Society, NY. Photograph by Tim Nighswander.

Pioneering modern artist Josef Albers was born on March 19, 1888. Albers was an influential teacher, writer, painter, and color theorist best known for the Homages to the Square series and the groundbreaking book The Interaction of Color.

In partnership with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, the ARTstor Digital Library features 2,100 images of works by Josef and his wife Anni. The collection includes more than 300 paintings and studies, including many examples of his famous Homage to the Square series, as well nearly 900 drawings, prints, and other works on paper stemming back to 1914. There are also 350 examples of drawings, prints, and textiles by Anni Albers. In addition, the Digital Library features 550 personal photographs and photo collages relating to both artists, and their families and friends, which include such well-known 20th-century artists as Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Diego Rivera. Of note are the travel photographs taken during the couple’s journeys to Mexico and Latin America between 1934 and 1967, which deeply influenced their respective work and inspired them to collect Pre-Columbian art and textiles.

View the collection:

Josef Albers | Mai ’36 Lake Lure / Jan ’36 Heimweg von Mexico (Josef Albers), 1936 | © 2008 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany, CT/Artists Rights Society, NY. Photograph by Tim Nighswander.

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March 15, 2012

On this day: The Ides of March

Master of the Apollini Sacrum | The Assassination of Julius Caesar, 1475-1500 | Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas | Image and original data provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Roman | Bust of Julius Caesar, mid 1st century BCE | Image and original data provided by Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz

Julius Caesar, “dictator in perpetuity” of the Roman Empire, was murdered by his own senators on the Ides of March (March 15), 44 BC. Caesar had raised the ire of his already-resentful Republican senators after he appointed loyal members of his army to rule the Empire while he was away from Rome to fight in a war. Cassius Longinus started the plot against the dictator and was joined by his brother-in-law Marcus Brutus, Caesar’s protégé. As depicted in this painting from the 15th century, Caesar was stabbed to death by the entire group of senators after being lured to a senate meeting. To their surprise, they did not find support from the populace, and the houses of Brutus and Cassius were attacked. Both of them committed suicide two years later after their forces were defeated by Caesar’s adopted son Octavian. The painting of Caesar’s murder comes to us from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation collection, and the bust of Caesar from the Classical Sculptures (Berlin State Museums).

Search for Julius Caesar for more images of the emperor, and for Brutus to find images of the murderer, as well as images from a manuscript of Cicero’s “Letters to Brutus, Quintus, Octavian, and Atticus” from the Manuscripts and Early Printed Books (Bodleian Library, University of Oxford).

Archaeologists believe they have found the exact place where Julius Caesar was stabbed; search for Largo di Torre Argentina to see photographs of the site from the European Architecture and Sculpture (Sara N. James) collection.

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March 14, 2012

On this day: Happy Pi Day (3/14)!

Erhard Schoen | Pi: Nude man with fishtails, 1527 | Retrospective conversion of The Illustrated Bartsch (Abaris Books) by ARTstor Inc. and authorized contractors

Happy Pi (∏)Day! Today is 3/14, the first three decimals of ∏ (3.14). To celebrate, here is a 16th-century woodcut of the Greek letter ∏ from The Illustrated Bartsch.

Too dry? Try these pies from Pop artist Wayne Thiebaud, courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art: Painting and Sculpture.

Not enough? Visit this site from the University of Exeter to see pi to the first 1,000,000 digital places!

Wayne Thiebaud | Cut Meringues, 1961 | Image and original data provided by the The Museum of Modern Art | Art © Wayne Thiebaud / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY | This work of art is protected by copyright and/or related rights and may not be reproduced in any manner, except as permitted under the ARTstor Digital Library Terms and Conditions of Use, without the prior express written authorization of VAGA, 350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2820, New York, NY 10118. Tel.: 212-736-6666, fax: 212-736-6767, email: info

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