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101 votes
Accepted

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

The hexagram is not an exclusively Jewish symbol. For that matter, the Star of David as a symbol of Judaism (as opposed to a symbol used by Jews) is far newer than people realize, dating only to 1897 ...
Mark's user avatar
  • 8,541
76 votes

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

Art does not exist in a vacuum, but is rather only one part of the historical record. Just as people comment on our modern standard of beauty today, so does early modern writers on theirs. Fortunately,...
Semaphore's user avatar
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72 votes
Accepted

How do we know the gender distribution of cave art painters?

A significant portion of cave paintings are so called "hand stencils": People pressed one hand onto the wall and applied color around the hand. Image: Cueva de las Manos, Perito Moreno, ...
Henning Kockerbeck's user avatar
60 votes
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What mysterious Flemish peasant activity is depicted in this painting?

The question is: Q: What mysterious Flemish peasant activity is depicted in this painting? and one guess was: Q: There is this activity he depicts in the background... It looks like shooting arrows ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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45 votes
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What's the festival shown in this illustration?

It's the Wedding at Cana. The text is in Swedish, written with Gothic script (this was common up to the end of the nineteenth century in Sweden). The text is ... madd [sic!], som blir smakelig. Om ...
andejons's user avatar
  • 5,631
43 votes
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Was Rosie the Riveter sourced from a Michelangelo painting?

In principle, yes. But it is not the 1943 Westinghouse poster of a "Rosie the Riveter"-like figure captioned "We Can Do It!" by J. Howard Miller that became conflated with "Rosie the Riveter" in ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
  • 80.8k
43 votes
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What paintings might these be (2 sketches made in the Tate Britain Gallery)?

The top one might be Thomas Daniell, Idgah at Amroha 1810 While the bottom one is John Linnell, Kensington Gravel Pits 1811–2 Both images are copyright: © Tate under CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported)
Steve Bird's user avatar
  • 19.8k
39 votes

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

This a picture called "La foire du Lendit" Pontifical de Sens, France, 14th century BnF Ms. Latin 962, fol. 264 Source: Medieval Trade and Travel: Home And can be dated with additional ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
  • 80.8k
35 votes

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

This is an example of decorative marginalia, which is quite common on medieval manuscripts. Sometimes the marginalia relates to the context of the subject of that page of the manuscript, but often it ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
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28 votes
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What size are these mosaics of Justinian and Theodora?

According to The Met Museum website, the mosaic Emperor Justinian and Members of His Court measures 104 in. by 144 in. or 264.2cm by 365.8cm, which is 8ft 8in by 12ft. The same dimensions are given ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
27 votes
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What is the date and original source of this medieval picture?

The image shows shows the Fair at Lendit in France. It is taken from a 15th century manuscript held at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris France. MS Latin 962 folio 264. The suggested date for ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
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27 votes
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Why did Robert Walpole get painted with a crown on his right side?

The painting shows Robert Walpole in his full regalia as First Earl of Orford. The "crown" is not, in fact technically a crown, but rather a coronet, which forms part of that regalia. The ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
26 votes

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

A lot of the paintings were commissioned as portraits, why would people pay for themselves to be depicted in an ugly way? Wealth nowadays is associated with a slim, tanned, and shaped body because ...
user36167's user avatar
  • 261
24 votes
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What are all fantastic creatures on The Nile mosaic of Palestrina?

There’s a detailed description of the mosaic in Meyboom’s The Nile Mosaic of Palestrina, and in this answer I will be mostly quoting from this work. Organization of the mosaic It has always been ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
24 votes
Accepted

How do we know this bust is Aristotle?

The identification was originally made by Franz Studniczka in his 1908 Das Bildnis des Aristoteles. The basis of his argument is a miniature bust, discovered by the Italian antiquary, Fulvio Orsini, ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.5k
22 votes
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What's the background to the popularity of turquoise in Russian architecture?

It's entirely modern. In 1840, the Winter Palace wasn't teal. This page has a lovely timeline of how its color changed in the moist Baltic climate from beige to ochre, before being painted...bright ...
SPavel's user avatar
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21 votes
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What is known about the Ubaid lizard-people figurines?

There are many theories & interpretations, but relatively little evidence to support most of them. Of course, there are no written sources from the Ubaid period to support them. You are ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
21 votes
Accepted

Who are these red flag worshipers from these early maps?

See Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus / auctore Olao Magno ... Magnus, Olaus, 1490-1558 (click here for full Hathi Trust catalog entry for the 1562 edition) or here for Wikipedia's description. ...
kimchi lover's user avatar
  • 5,922
19 votes
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What are the dates of these panoramas of Paris?

Acknowledgement: this answer owes a debt to some of the comments posted under the question and under this answer, especially Kimchilover. There is conclusive evidence that all three images are from ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
17 votes
Accepted

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

I understand that there are four surviving accounts of de Soto's expedition. Three of those accounts were written by survivors: Rodrigo Rangel or Ranjel, who was de Soto’s personal secretary; Luys ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
16 votes
Accepted

What is the origin of this pre-industrial naval depiction

Based on your reading of the signature I did some googling and can offer the hypothesis (just a guess, really) that the artist might be Rudolf Claudus. He was a naval painter of note who was ...
Felix Goldberg's user avatar
15 votes

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

SHORT ANSWER As with most such images in medieval manuscripts, it's hard to tell. The artist may not have intended any particular meaning, but I've listed some possibilities at the end of the long ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
15 votes
Accepted

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

The hand gesture showing the middle fingers together has been variously described as a ‘W’ or ‘pseudo-zygodactylous gesture’ or the ‘El Greco gesture’. It seems to have originated in late renaissance ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
15 votes
Accepted

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

Here is a virtual tour of a temporary exhibit Magritte La Ligne de vie that was held at MASI Lugano in Switzerland in late 2018 to early 2019. (I found this by way of an Italian language blog post ...
Brian Z's user avatar
  • 21k
15 votes
Accepted

Is there any painting in art history that depicts furniture floating in the air?

René Magritte's Le Temps menaçant (Threatening Weather) depicts a marble torso, a tuba, and what I would call a "kitchen chair" (a wooden chair with wicker seat), all in greyish white, ...
shoover's user avatar
  • 1,773
14 votes
Accepted

What is Darius III wearing on his head?

From this website http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/clothing-ii , in a section concerning historical clothing it goes into length on several styles of headgear. This style falls under the ...
justCal's user avatar
  • 40.1k
14 votes
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Did the medieval Europe have an active "lowbrow" culture?

Lowbrow culture have always existed in human society, they're just not necessarily that well preserved in the historical record, or in modern popular consciousness. Jokes about sex, farts, penises, ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.5k
14 votes
Accepted

What is this tool/thing in an Aztec painting?

It's cuitlatl, a symbol of excrement, sin, perhaps fire. We see plate 57 from the Codex Borgia. It depicts Tlazolteotl goddess of earth and filth, here as a moon goddess and goddess of pulque, ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
  • 80.8k
14 votes

Are there examples of artwork which anachronistically showed ancients equipped with firearms?

In history "ancient" usually refers to the time period of Antiquity, the time before the beginning of the Middle Ages roughly about AD 500. I note that King Arthur was said to have been ...
MAGolding's user avatar
  • 19.3k

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