Historic Places

Lyndhurst at Christmastime

Over the weekend, I visited Lyndhurst mansion to take the Christmas tour. Lyndhurst is a 19th-century Gothic Revival mansion in Tarrytown, New York. It was designed by Alexander Jackson Davis (1803-1892) and owned by three families, lastly that of railroad magnate Jay Gould (1836-1892). The house has all its original contents, including Tiffany stained glass windows and Gothic Revival furniture by Davis and by Herter Brothers.

Art Appreciation 101

Why Museums Don’t Display All the Art They Own (and Related Questions)

Somebody recently asked me why most museums display only a small portion of their collections. The obvious answer is that museums have limited exhibition space, but that raises many more questions. Why do museums own so much more than they could ever hope to exhibit? Why do they keep all the objects they don't use? In this article, I'll do my best to present some of the relevant ideas as I've observed them on my art history adventures.

Art History · European Art

A Matter of Perspective (a fun fact)

When Leonardo da Vinci painted his famous The Last Supper for the Santa Maria delle Grazie monastery in Milan, he used some cool tricks to make the painting seem to be part of the room itself. Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper, 1490s. Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons. The Last… Continue reading A Matter of Perspective (a fun fact)

Books · European Art

The Mystery of the Disappearing Velasquez (maybe)

I just finished reading a book that told a wild, but true story about a work of art. Laura Cumming's The Vanishing Velasquez: A 19th-Century Bookseller's Obsession with a Lost Masterpiece tells the story of an English bookseller who believed that he owned a lost masterpiece by Spanish artist Diego Velasquez. It ends with a huge, still-unsolved mystery.

American Art

Art That Inspires Me: Thomas Cole

I don't think it will come as a surprise to anyone that Thomas Cole's work is on my list of art that inspires me. To talk about why I love Cole's work in general, I would probably have to write a whole book, so I'm going to focus on one particular painting that I recently saw for the first time. It's called A Snow Squall, and it was painted in 1825.

Ancient & Classical Art · Art History

Art That Inspires Me: Faiyum Mummy Portraits

Continuing with my earlier theme of art that inspires me, here is another example from the ancient world. During Egypt's Roman period (c. 30 BCE - 330 CE), many beautiful portraits were made in and around the area of Faiyum. They were mummy portraits, which means that they were attached to mummy wrappings to cover the mummy's head.