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Questions tagged [art]

Questions related to history of art or artists.

48
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5answers
12k 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 ...
31
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2answers
5k 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 ...
23
votes
1answer
996 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 ...
22
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1answer
3k 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 ...
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 ...
20
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
17
votes
1answer
397 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 ...
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
votes
2answers
537 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?
14
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2answers
2k 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 "...
14
votes
1answer
711 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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2answers
10k 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 ...
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
votes
2answers
484 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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0answers
660 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 ...
12
votes
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 ...
11
votes
1answer
447 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, ...
11
votes
3answers
944 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
votes
1answer
320 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 ...
11
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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 ...
11
votes
1answer
467 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
votes
1answer
467 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 ...
10
votes
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 ...
10
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3answers
793 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
989 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
votes
2answers
823 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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1answer
6k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
608 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
1answer
263 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 - ...
8
votes
2answers
439 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
405 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
396 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
314 views

Why was galena used as a black pigment, when soot is more black and also more abundant?

Throughout centuries, starting in antiquity at least, galena (PbS) is reported as a black pigment. This is for painting but also (in Egypt and Rome) as a cosmetic. Soot is a more effective pigment ...
7
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4answers
2k views

Did the medieval Europe have an active “lowbrow” culture?

When we look back on another age, we tend to skip to the highlights. That goes double for things like art, sports, literature, and music. But in our own time, we recognize that by divine fiat 90% of ...
7
votes
2answers
336 views

Are there any antisemitic caricatures from France during the interwar period?

I am looking for antisemitic caricatures in France between the two World Wars. I can find examples both from before and after, e.g. ones related to the Dreyfus case, but none during this period. Are ...
7
votes
1answer
596 views

Cover Art of “Álbum de la Revolución Cubana”

On the cover of the famous "Álbum de la Revolución Cubana": Who is the person whose face is painted in the top-right corner? What is his importance? Is the cover (where we see Fidel Castro actively ...
7
votes
2answers
335 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 ...
7
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4answers
431 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Is there a name for the WPA Art Style?

There seems to be a discernable common (although not universal) style to a lot of the art produced by the WPA during its history (1935-1943). I'd characterize it as more simplistic than realistic, ...
7
votes
1answer
788 views

What are the historical inaccuracies in Repin's “Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks”?

Russian Wikipedia says this about "Запорожцы пишут письмо турецкому султану" ("Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire") painting by Ilya Repin: После первого ...
7
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2answers
566 views

Which regions/dynasties do the flags in this Fresco about Byzantine-Persian war represent?

Piero Della Francesca painted the following Fresco to depict battle between Heraclius of Byzantine Empire and Khosrou II of Persian Empire. Which regions or dynasties do the flags represent? From ...
6
votes
3answers
970 views

Why did European writers and artists continue to depict the Moors as being black skinned, even though they were mostly Berbers and Arabs

The Moors were foot soldiers of the Ummayad dynasties of Syria who crossed the straits of Gibraltar into the Iberian peninsula. Later in that period, two new dynasties emerged: the Almoravids and the ...
6
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2answers
1k views

Looking for 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Cost of peacock throne vs Cost of Taj Mahal

I am listening to the lectures: Professor Michael H. Fisher, phd - History of India and I stumbled upon a very surprising sentence: The peacock throne cost twice as much as Taj Mahal. Amazed, I ...
6
votes
3answers
282 views

Symbolism in illustration for a book by Riccati

The front cover of the book Opere (1761) by Jacopo Riccati, author of the celebrated Riccati equation, has the illustration depicted below. What is the symbolism incorporated in this illustration? (...
6
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1answer
4k views

Did any of these artists ever meet?

Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (Raphael) and Donato Bardi (Donatello) are some of the most prominent and influential artists of the Renaissance period. Three of the four (...
5
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2answers
1k views

Do busts or statues exist for all the Roman emperors until the fall of the West?

I recently visited the impressive Hall of Emperors section in the Capitoline museum in Rome. I had assumed that it would display busts of all the emperors of Rome, but in reality it was obvious that a ...
5
votes
2answers
430 views

Which figure is this a statue of?

In Ocean's 12, towards the end of the movie in the famous scene where Night Fox is dodging the laser field to steal the (fake) coronation egg at the museum, we see this statue in the foreground. My ...
5
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1answer
503 views
5
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1answer
511 views

How is it known that Phidias used the golden ratio in the Parthenon?

I can see it is widely accepted he did, so there must be some source backing this up, since no work of his has survived (except for a vase in Olympia with the inscription "I belong to Phidias"). What ...