Questions tagged [art]

Questions related to history of art or artists.

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50
votes
1answer
14k views

Is this artwork (used in a video game) real?

In Phantasmagoria video game you can find an artwork (most probably a tapestry) that looks like real piece of art and not something made for the game. I've done some research, but I wasn't able to ...
48
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5answers
14k views

How do we know baroque art depicted obese ladies because of a different ideal of beauty?

I've often heard that the obesity of women in baroque art signs that such women were the ideal of beauty. How could we know that? And how could we know it wasn't just "cultural rationalization" of a ...
39
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1answer
11k views

Why does this London Underground poster from 1924 have a Star of David atop a Christmas tree?

There is currently an exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago displaying posters promoting London Underground transit from the 1920's and 30's. This interesting piece comes from 1924. A full ...
32
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2answers
6k views

What is the date and original source of this medieval picture?

While researching the history of chimneys, I came across this medieval image on two different sites, neither of which gives any details. Source: Dark Ages Project. The same picture can also be found ...
27
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2answers
5k views

Was Rosie the Riveter sourced from a Michelangelo painting?

The Russian Wikipedia page states that an art from Michelangelo is a source of inspiration for Rosie the Riveter arrwork. My own impression is this looks indeed like that, there are many similarities....
25
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2answers
2k views

Who are these red flag worshipers from these early maps?

While doing some research into maps over the last month or so, I came across an interesting item which I found recurring on two different sources. I first encountered this scene on a copy of the ...
25
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1answer
5k views

What is the meaning of people “looking elsewhere” on medieval paintings?

Looking at some medieval paintings I noticed that there are sometimes people "looking elsewhere" even though they take part in an important event and would be expected to pay attention: Is there a ...
24
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1answer
1k views

What was the scale of eroticism in Byzantine theater?

When reading the texts of saint John the Chrysostome i found a very severe criticism of theater because of 'nude harlots' that could be seen there. I have also read some fragments of Procopius' Secret ...
21
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1answer
2k views

What's the meaning of a knight fighting a snail in medieval book illustrations?

Someone sent me this really weird picture of a medieval illustration. It depicted a knight fighting a snail, and was basically a viral snarky commentary about how weird medieval ideas were. I tried ...
20
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1answer
4k views

What's the festival shown in this illustration?

This poster shows a hopping European party of a few centuries back. Unfortunately there's no attribution or date on this old print. The text resembles German and refers to the second chapter of the ...
18
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1answer
435 views

Language used on a dagger hilt, supposedly of Persian provenance, ca. 1700-1750

Could anyone guess what language is used in the sign made on this dagger hilt, supposedly of Persian provenance, and dated approx. 1700-1750? A fellow translator asked if I knew, and naturally I ...
17
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2answers
637 views

What is the meaning of a glove on the tail of monsters in illuminated manuscripts?

I've seen several images from illuminated manuscripts depicting odd-looking creatures with gloves showing two raised fingers on their tails: What is the meaning if this device?
16
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3answers
3k views

Why do we find a large number of nude male characters in ancient Greek paintings and sculptures?

Why do we find a large number of nude male characters in ancient Greek paintings and sculptures? What was the social status of nudity in ancient Greece?
16
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3answers
747 views

How difficult would be to watch a porn movie in US/UK before the WW II?

The first movie, longer than a few seconds, the famous "Arrival of the train" was made in 1885. The first erotic movie, "Le Coucher de la Mariée" was made barely a year later (you can watch it here - ...
16
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1answer
945 views

Please help find these paintings

I've read in a book written about 80 years ago descriptions of 3 paintings, the paintings were seen about 130 years ago. These are the descriptions (translated to English): Painting #1 Painting of ...
15
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2answers
14k views

Why are there no photorealistic paintings from the old days? [closed]

As proven by many recent examples, some people can develop their drawing skill to such a level as to produce drawings that are difficult to distinguish from photographs. Yet much of historical art is ...
14
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3answers
2k views

Did any Moors accompany Hernando de Soto in his exploration of Mississippi?

I was reading about Hernando de Soto and saw William Powell's painting (Relevant bit cropped and added below): The odd thing (Marked with a red arrow) is the man who looks Moorish and is dressed in ...
14
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1answer
775 views

Are the swords in the Oath of Horatii all Roman?

In looking at the Oath of Horatii image I can see three swords in the hand of the father, I see what looks to be a gladius in the center, but the two swords on either side of it do not look to be ...
13
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1answer
2k views

What are the dates of these panoramas of Paris?

As part of a personal project I've been looking for period etchings, engravings, and black and white illustrations of Paris as it might have looked during the French Revolution of 1789. Those who are ...
13
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3answers
1k views

Why didn't early modern Christians object to pagan symbolism in art?

I've been to a couple European museums recently, and a question that has been nagging at me is how a society composed of devout Christians could have been so okay with the introduction of pagan gods ...
13
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1answer
1k views

What is known about the Ubaid lizard-people figurines?

I find the Ubaid lizard-people figurines visually captivating. But for obvious reasons it's difficult to search for information about them online without wading chest deep through pages of ancient ...
13
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2answers
578 views

What kind of device is pictured on this Roman mosaic from Villa Tellaro, Sicily?

Based on numismatic evidence, this is dated in the second half of the fourth century CE
13
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4answers
4k views

What was El Greco's relationship with the Spanish Inquisition?

2007's biopic El Greco claims the painter was put on trial by the Spanish Inquisition, more specifically Grand Inquisitor Fernando Niño de Guevara, for blasphemy. The film is a heavily fictionalized ...
13
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2answers
3k views

Who made this Sino-Soviet Propaganda Poster?

Who made this Sino-Soviet Propaganda Poster? And, why was it made so early? By the left armpit, there is a signature: The Who: I believe this says "ВИКТОР ИВАНОВ" which google says translates to "...
12
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8answers
2k views

Who is the man in the red jacket in this painting?

This is a painting from near 1850 that depicts a (famous) French man, possibly noble, in a park, maybe Paris. Is he a Minister? King? Military? Whoever he might be, I consider he is important, since ...
12
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2answers
591 views

What is the origin of this pre-industrial naval depiction

I'm neither a history buff not an artist, so I apologise in advance for my poor descriptions. I have recently come into possession of a painting depicting some naval ships, perhaps 19th century, ...
12
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3answers
1k views

What is the period/term used describe Giuseppe Arcimboldo's style of painting?

Giuseppe Arcimboldo was best known for creating portrait heads entirely up of objects. Here are some examples: He is described as a '16th century Mannerist' and the 'Grandfather of Surrealism'. ...
11
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2answers
903 views

What are the precursors of the Bayeux Tapestry?

Background from Wikipedia: Bayeux Tapestry is one of a kind, cr. 70 metres long, narrative embroidery depicting the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England, and culminating in the Battle ...
11
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1answer
608 views

Fat jokes in ancient Greek comedies

I'm looking for examples of jokes poking fun at fat people in ancient Greek comedies. So far from my research I have been unable to find anything. Were there any such jokes or was being overweight ...
11
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2answers
1k views

In Europe, why were there few portraits showing a real likeness of the subject before the 15th century?

According to the Wikipedia page on portrait painting in the middle ages, it was not until after 1350 that portraits ‘became clear likenesses’. This seems to be confirmed, for England at least, by the ...
10
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2answers
1k views

How much of Nazi iconography came from Hitler?

The Nazis were, as much as any other political group in modern history, masters of iconography and symbolism. The swastika, the eagle and wreath, the solid stone architecture, the sweeping art deco ...
10
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1answer
218 views

Why are the buildings built in classical style in the first half of the 19th century in Russia so frequently yellow-and-white - coloured?

So many buildings built in neo-classical style in cr. 1800-1850 in Russian empire are yellow (always the same shade of yellow) with white columns. There are some exceptions, e.g. grey or blue of beige ...
10
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1answer
7k views

What is the origin of the Flower of Life symbol?

I have been collecting resources and tracing the history of the Flower of Life geometrical symbol, since it contains great properties of many kinds: While the oldest occurence in Abydos, Egypt has ...
10
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1answer
701 views

How can I date this carved wood sculpture?

I found this beautiful wood-carved sculpture: It does look quite old and I wonder around what it was created. Also I'm interested which things to look out for, in order to determine the age and ...
9
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2answers
701 views

Can you identify these images from Revolution-era Russia?

I saw an unrelated image include portions of these images: I know they are from the 1918-1932 era of the USSR, judging from the art style, but I can not find titles or translations for them. I also ...
9
votes
2answers
919 views

What is the title of the Magritte painting that shows a horse-headed woman looking out of a stone window?

I hope this is a reasonable place to ask this question, at least until an art history StackExchange shows up. My memory is hazy about this but I seem to remember a René Magritte painting that depicts ...
9
votes
2answers
710 views

What is the chair depicted in Cesare Maccari's 1889 painting “Cicerone denuncia Catilina”?

There are a number of inaccuracies in Cesare Maccari's painting. Wikipedia notes that the arrangement of the chairs was of parallel rather than radial as depicted. Did Maccari accurately depict the ...
9
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2answers
458 views

What is Darius III wearing on his head?

In the famous Alexander Mosaic found in Pompeii, Darius is wearing some form of head covering, it appears to just be cloth wrapped around his head. What is the hat called? I can't find any information ...
9
votes
1answer
271 views

How/when did the halo shift from being a solid disk behind the head to being a floating ring above the head?

In almost all older religious paintings that I've seen, holy figures with halos have gold/glowing disks behind their heads, like this: or sometimes more pronounced, but still clearly behind the head: ...
9
votes
1answer
378 views

Why are there shields present on the sides of Henry VIII ships, did they serve any function or was it pure decoration?

reading about the Field of the cloth of gold, I came across some paintings commissioned by Henry VIII himself. This painting of Henry VIII embarking at Dover to meet with Francis I caught my eye as ...
9
votes
1answer
289 views

A Rake's Progress: What is that weird hat-like thing?

In the second pane of A Rake's Progress, Tom Rakewell is wearing something that is not a wig on his head. But what is it?? (source) It's bugged me on and off for years that he seems to wearing a - ...
9
votes
1answer
582 views

Bears on Bicycles - What are early examples of photographs or paintings showing bicycles used with animals in circus acts?

Bicycles became popular during the early to mid-nineteenth-century. Around the same time, Isaac A. Van Amburgh was active as the first circus wild animal trainer. When did the practice of training ...
9
votes
1answer
217 views

What is the brown doll on Nicolás de Ovando's desk?

Nicolás de Ovando (1460-1511) was Spanish governor of the Indies (Hispaniola) before the age of the viceroyalties. In this anonymous portrait from Wikipedia, work materials are artfully arranged ...
8
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1answer
2k views

What is this tool/thing in an Aztec painting?

In between the warrior on the right, and the serpents in the center, is a small object. I’ve circled it in blue. This is from page 57 of the Codex Borgia. Full scans can be seen here. What is it? ...
8
votes
2answers
508 views

What is the meaning of the hand gesture performed by King James II in the portrait by Peter Lely?

This portrait by Peter Lely is one of the most well-known images of James II of England (aka James VII of Scotland). It is used to illustrate his Wikipedia article. Is there some meaning behind the ...
8
votes
2answers
639 views

What is Washington holding in the painting “Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States”?

Here is Howard Chandler Christy's 1944 depiction of the Signing of the Constitution of the United States. You can see clearly Richard Spaight of North Carolina signing the constitution. I'm just ...
8
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2answers
2k views

Who are the 20th century painters on this t-shirt?

I bought this t-shirt for a friend who is really into arts, but actually I don't know all the painters that are pictured on this shirt. Clock-wise, I recognize: René Magritte Edvard Munch Salvador ...
8
votes
1answer
827 views

Why do some painted portraits show the subject pointing?

I've just been to the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland and I noticed that many of the portraits show the subject pointing at something, often out of the frame, for example this one. Why is this?
8
votes
1answer
278 views

What is the original source of this 16th century image of a French town holiday with musicians in a tree?

Several sites have this image below but none give any information about the original source. Image source: fineartamerica. The same image can also be found at Granger and (on various items such as ...
8
votes
3answers
474 views

How did the modern hyper-appreciation of antiquities develop?

Through much of history since classical antiquity, ancient artifacts were not appreciated much. Wonders such as the Coliseum and the Pyramids of Giza were partially scavenged for building material ...