Posted: Friday, April 4, 2014
When we recently walked through gallery 642 in European Paintings, this painting in particular caught our eye. We found it so eye-catching because of its distinctive, dark color palette that makes it stand out from the rest of the gallery, and also because of its surreal and macabre subject matter.
Posted: Monday, March 31, 2014
On April 22, 1930, Bryant Baker's seventeen-foot bronze statue Pioneer Woman was unveiled in Ponca City, Oklahoma, before a crowd of forty thousand spectators. At the dedication ceremony, patron Ernest W. Marland—oil man, philanthropist, and the tenth governor of Oklahoma—described the commission: "We have erected monuments to our war heroes, to the hearty pioneers who wrested from the wilderness, from the plains and from the desert this nation of ours, but have we preserved the memory of the women…who married their men and set out with them on their conquest of the west, faced with them the months of arduous toil and terrible dangers?…With this monument I hope to preserve for the children of our children the story of our mothers' fight and toil and courage."
Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014
The sculpture Pioneer Woman in the current exhibition The American West in Bronze, 1850–1925 caught my attention because it depicts a woman. Before you roll your eyes and claim that I am stating the obvious, bear with me! The field of American Western art is dominated by renditions of men and animals, so Bryant Baker's sculpture offers a unique approach to capturing the West. The very fact that Pioneer Woman focuses on a pioneer woman makes it noteworthy, but the meaning of the work is more elusive than just its subject matter.
Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Toward the end of the first century a.d. Jerusalem lay in ruins, the second temple built by Herod the Great (74/73–4 b.c.) destroyed and ransacked by the Roman army. Meanwhile, in Babylon, scribes continued to copy ancient texts, inscribing some of them on cuneiform tablets made of clay. After the last cuneiform scribe passed to his fate, no one remained who could read or write documents in Babylonian, Assyrian, or Sumerian. In 1893, pioneer archaeologists and explorers digging in Iraq began to uncover vast archives of cuneiform tablets that had been buried for two thousand years. Today, philologists, archaeologists, and historians are able to combine narratives previously known only from the Bible with information gleaned from thousands of historic, literary, religious, and scientific texts, illuminating the world of Nebuchadnezzar, Sennacherib, and Cyrus. The Cyrus Cylinder, now on view at the Met, helps us understand the peoples and policies of the ancient Near East.
Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
The Cyrus Cylinder, currently on display in the exhibition The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: Charting a New Empire (June 20–August 4, 2013), is a document of unique historical significance. It records the Persian king Cyrus' conquest of the city of Babylon in 539 b.c., and his proclamation that cults and temples should be restored, their personnel allowed to return from Babylon to their home cities.
Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012
The historical period explored in Byzantium and Islam was deeply transformative for Judaism. In this post, I'll give a brief summary of Judaism during this transitional time, focusing on some important trends showcased in the exhibition.
Posted: Monday, January 9, 2012
By any standards, Lisbon's Hebrew Bible—now on view at the Met—is a masterpiece of medieval illumination. Its acquisition in 1804 by the National Library of Portugal may be credited to the enlightened intellectualism of the institution's first librarian, António Ribeiro dos Santos.
Posted: Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Knights from the Lewis group embody the visual ideal of a knight on horseback: a mounted warrior, protected by armor and shield, and armed with a sword and a spear, or lance. The Rooks (also known as Warders), rendered as battle-ready infantry, show very similar equipment (excluding the lance).
Posted: Monday, August 16, 2010
Two years ago I had the good fortune of being in Florence when, at the Accademia, which every tourist visits for its collection of sculpture by Michelangelo, there was a marvelous exhibition devoted to the great fourteenth-century painter Giovanni da Milano (Italian, Lombard, active 1346–69). I spent hours in the exhibition and it was there that I first saw Christ and Saint Peter; the Resurrection; Christ and Mary Magdalen.
Posted: Monday, March 29, 2010
Each time I stand before this painting I am impressed by the clever way the artist—the most famous female painter of the seventeenth century—has infused a well-known biblical story with her understanding of a gendered society in which women employed beauty and cleverness to gain the upper hand.