Art Artifacts of Material History

The Sea is a Path

By Andrea M. Gáldy – When Captain James Cook left for the first of his three expeditions to the Pacific in 1768, he stood in a long line of naval explorers looking for new routes and continents. His ship was appropriately named Endeavour and the task ahead was daunting. Cook […]


Russian Lacquerware Gems

By P. F. Sommerfeldt – The names Palekh and Kholuy, like Fedoskino and Mstera, may be only obscure villages in the Vladimir-Suzdal Ivanovo region of Russia to many people, but their rich legacy of lacquerware is anything but obscure. I first fell in love with Russian lacquerware when we lived […]


We are Florentine

Fig. 1   Filippo Lippi, Portrait of a Young Man, ca 1480-5, National Gallery, Washington DC,                       Andrew Mellon Collection (image courtesy National Gallery of Art) By Andrea M. Gáldy – If it would not look so catty, temptation would be […]


Giovanni Segantini and the Segantini Museum, St. Moritz

Giovanni Segantini, La Natura detail, 1897-8, Segantini Museum, St. Moritz (image public domain) By P. F. Sommerfeldt – Giovanni Segantini (1858-99) was not only a pastoral artist who loved mountains, especially the Alps around the Engadine above St. Moritz, but one who captured their majestic beauty in a landscape shared […]


Proto-Elamites: Master Sculptors of Animals in Antiquity

Proto-Elamite Reclining Gilded Silver Mountain Goat, 3100-2900 BCE,  Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 7 cm length (image public domain) By Patrick Hunt –  How early in ancient art does realism appear?  While many ancient cultures transitioning from the Copper Age to Bronze Age in the Ancient Near East and elsewhere […]


Renaissance Globalization

Domenico Ghirlandaio, Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints, 1483, Uffizi Gallery, Florence (image pubic domain) By Andrea M. Gáldy –  It’s the Globalisation … Kathleen Christian and Leah Clark, eds. European Art and the Wider World 1350-1550. Published by Manchester University Press, Manchester 2017 (Art and its Global Histories Series), […]


Early Byzantine Great Palace Mosaics, Istanbul

Eagle and Snake, Imperial Palace Mosaic Museum, Istanbul, circa 6th c. (image in common domain) By Patrick Hunt – Courtesy of the Nikia and Hippodrome revolts of 532 that destroyed part of the Imperial Palace of Constantine in Constantinople, subsequent rebuilding by Justinian (reigning 527-65) and possibly added to by […]


A Collection to Make (And Break?) A King

                       A. Van Dyck, Charles I (triple portrait) Royal Collection ca. 1635 By Andrea M. Gáldy –  Charles I, the second Stuart king of England, is for most of us the unlucky monarch who lost his head and his throne on […]

Art Historic Collections

Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Hermitage – Winter Palace, St. Petersburg  (photo P. Hunt 2017) By P. F. Sommerfeldt – It has been variously said that even if you stood in front of each Hermitage Museum object a few seconds less than a minute you’d need a total of eleven continuous years, day and night, […]


A Case of Rebirth and Modernity: the Cinquecento in Florence

Detail of Bronzino, Deposition (Besançon, 1543) By Andrea M. Gáldy – While many people still consider the Renaissance to have been a movement created largely in Florence and Rome, in recent decades this understanding has been changing. The Renaissance has become more international and its chronology has become wider, one […]