While at the Metropolitan Museum of Art a few weeks ago, a small religious diptych from 18th-century Ethiopia caught my eye. The Ethiopians have one of the oldest Christian traditions in the world. They have also produced many wonderful icons.
The World Between Two Empires shows art and artifacts made in the Middle East between about 100 BCE and 250 CE. It recently opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but I got to see it during preview days. I really enjoyed seeing beauty and culture that I didn't know much about before.
Last week, I attended the New York Antiquarian Book Fair and enjoyed taking a close look at the medieval illuminated manuscripts offered for sale there. This opportunity reminded me how manuscripts' greatest qualities are best enjoyed in person.
I love the American artist John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), and I have wanted to write an Art That Inspires Me post about him for a while. However, there are just so many things that inspire me about Sargent, and I struggled to pick a few to focus on. This is my all-time favorite Sargent painting. It depicts Lady (Gertrude) Agnew of Locknaw, the wife of a Scottish nobleman.
While discussing the difficult questions art restoration poses concerning artworks' original states, noted Leonardo da Vinci scholar Martin Kemp made a great observation about the tricky nature of the "original". It seems obvious when I see it written in front of me, but I can't say I had considered it much before.
Why do people talk about "walking like an Egyptian"? This strange phenomenon, which became a cult hit at one point, involves an unnatural posture where your shoulders face the side while everything else faces the front. When people try it, they usually also add strange head and arm movements. There's even a song about it.… Continue reading Don’t Walk Like an Egyptian, Because They Didn’t, Either! (a fun fact)
The Wadsworth Athenaeum, in Hartford, CT, is one of America's oldest art museums. It was founded by Daniel Wadsworth in 1842. However, it has been expanded several times since them. The museum has a little bit of everything, from paintings to porcelain, ancient Egyptian to contemporary European. It's a very pleasant place to spend an afternoon.
For those of you new to the art-viewing, museum-going experience, do you feel unsure what to see first? If so, I can make a few suggestions. I've come up with three areas that I think are particularly accessible and enjoyable to new viewers. You'll find them in most major museums, and they also happen to be among my favorites.
I just finished reading Thomas Hoving's King of the Confessors, which is about Hoving's adventures in acquiring what's now called The Cloisters Cross. Thanks to him, this English Romanesque carved ivory cross is one of the highlights of the Met Cloisters. The story is wild, and I couldn't put it down.
I recently learned an interesting skating fact while working on an art history project. It has to do with the fashionable way to skate in the 18th and 19th centuries. Find out why I don't recommend skating that way today, then read my piece about Gilbert Stuart's "The Skater" on DailyArt app on Jan 19th.