A Hero’s Journey and the Dance of Dragons

Initial P: Alexander the Great Carried Aloft by Griffins, about 1300, unknown artist, in the Historia Scholastica. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. Ludwig XIII 1, fol. 222v; Alexander the Great in the Air (detail), about 1400–10, unknown artist, in the World Chronicle. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 33, fol. 221 In the Middle Ages, stories of Greek[…]

Painterly Urban Planning: Nikolaus Pevsner’s “Visual Planning and the Picturesque”

By John Hicks / 07.21.2011 Associate Editor Getty Research Institute Nikolaus Pevsner (1902–1983) was one of the 20th century’s foremost historians of British architecture. Even today, tourists wander through the historic squares of England aided by Pevsner’s The Buildings of England guidebooks, which remain in print with Yale University Press as the Pevsner Architectural Guides. A new book by Pevsner—Visual[…]

Runes and Commemoration in Anglo-Saxon England

The Franks Casket / Photo by Simon Ager, British Museum    By Dr. Martin Findell and Dr. Lilla Kopár Findell: Associate Professor in Historical Linguistics, University of Nottingham Kopár: Associate Professor of English, The Catholic University of America Abstract Runic inscriptions are of interest not only as evidence of language and literacy in early medieval England,[…]

Blending of Christian and Pagan Art in the Late Antique Santa Maria Antiqua Sarcophagus

Santa Maria Antiqua Sarcophagus (Sarcophagus with philosopher, orant, and Old and New Testament scenes), c. 270 C.E., marble, 23 1/4 x 86 inches (Santa Maria Antiqua, Rome). Speakers: Dr. Steven Zucker and Dr. Beth Harris By Dr. Allen Farber / 08.08.2015 Professor of Art History State University of New York College at Oneonta Santa Maria[…]

A Beginner’s Guide to the Renaissance Book

Woodcut in Divina proportione, 1509, Luca Pacioli. The Getty Research Institute, 84-B9582. See full digitized book A look at the art and science of Europe’s early printed books, with examples from the Getty Research Institute’s special collections. By Sarah Sherman / 09.23.2015 Reference Librarian Getty Research Institute In the 15th century, a new form of mass communication dramatically[…]

The Dutch Republic as the Center of the European Book Trade in the 17th Century

By Dr. Paul Hoftijzer / 11.23.2015 Senior University Lecturer in Medieval and Early Modern Studies Universiteit Leiden Abstract In the seventeenth century, the Dutch Republic witnessed its Golden Age. The reasons for this phenomenon are diverse, but it impacted all branches of Dutch society, including the production, distribution and consumption of printed media. The book[…]

Fire at the Crystal Palace: The ‘End of an Era’

By Dr. Chris Hilton / 11.30.2016 Former Senior Archivist Wellcome Library Eighty years ago, on 30 November 1936, a huge fire lit up the night sky over London. The Crystal Palace in South London had caught fire and as the colossal structure blazed, Londoners had a preview of what many would experience four years later in the Blitz: orange[…]

Royal Cavities: The Bitter Implications of Sugar Consumption in Early Modern Europe

Dentist (detail), 1659–81, Jan van der Bruggen. Engraving, 26.6 x 18.7 cm. Image courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam The exploding popularity of sugar among the European rich led to an unprecedented form of affluenza: dental decay. By Dr. Joseph Imorde / 01.19.2016 Professor of Art History Universitaet Siegen In early modern Europe, the opulence of princely festive dinners[…]

A Field Guide to Renaissance Gardens

Bathsheba Bathing (detail), leaf from the Hours of Louis XII, 1498–99, Jean Bourdichon. Tempera colors and gold on parchment, 9 9/16 x 6 11/16 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 79, recto A tour through sumptuous Renaissance gardens depicted in illuminated manuscripts. By Dr. Bryan C. Keene / 08.09.2013 Adjunct Professor of Art History Pepperdine University Gardens[…]

Prehistoric Art: The Language of Images

Paleolithic sculptures found in caves are some of the earliest examples of representational art. Hand Stencils from Argentina, c.11,000 – 7,500 BCE Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 02.14.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief 1 – The Stone Age Stone Age art illustrates early human creativity through small portable objects, cave paintings, and early sculpture and architecture.[…]

The Allure of Gems and Jewelry from the Medieval to Modern Era

Initial D: Saint John the Baptist, about 1520, Matteo da Milano. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 87, fol. 4 Praised for their “wondrous power, sparkling light, elegant beauty,” gems and jewelry have had associations with power and mysticism since the Middle Ages.      By Rheagan Martin (left) and Levi Higgs (center) with Dr. Bryan C. Keene[…]

A 19th-Century Love Story Told in Pictures

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1854, Roger Fenton (British, 1819-1869). Hand-colored albumen silver print. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, subjects of an exhibition at the Getty Center, were madly in love with each other…and with the camera. By Alexandria Sivak / 02.14.2014 Senior Communications Specialist J.[…]

Chocolate, The Food of the Gods

The magical substance: Cacao Fruit and Leaf, November 27, 1783, Jan Brandes. Graphite and wash on paper, 19.5 × 15.5 mm. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam The association between chocolate and love stretches back centuries. This Valentine’s Day, indulge in a decadent aphrodisiac recipe you can make at home. By Maite Gomez-Rejón / 02.12.2015 Chocolate. The ultimate aphrodisiac. Once available only[…]

Galileo and the Renaissance

Ottavio Leoni, Portrait of Galileo, 1624, engraving and etching (Fitzwilliam Museum) By Dr. Joseph Daubin / 08.09.2015 Distinguished University Professor of History The Graduate Center City University of New York The Life of Galileo Renaissance artists—painters, sculptors and architects—had been observing nature with a special interest in depicting it faithfully and realistically from the early 15th century on.[…]

Largest Early World Map Set to Be Unveiled at Rumsey Map Center

Urbano Monte’s planisphere, digitally stitched together. Source: Rumsey Map Center By Ahmed Kabil / 02.01.2018 Historian Near the end of a century of unprecedented change, four Japanese boys stopped in Milan on their way back home to Japan. They’d been sent as the first Japanese Embassy to Europe three years earlier by the Jesuit missionary Alesandro Valignano. Their[…]

A History of Printing and Typesetting in Film

An Intertype Fotosetter, one of the most popular “first-generation” mass-market phototypesetting machines. The system is heavily based on hot metal typesetting technology, with the metal casting machinery replaced with photographic film, a light system and glass pictures of characters. / Photo by Fox Wu, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Rob Banham Associate Professor of Typography and Graphic Communication University[…]

The History of Dance as Therapy

American dance therapist Marian Chace therapist in a dance therapy session. Image credit: American Dance Therapy Association By Julia Nurse / 10.12.2016 Web Content Officer Wellcome Library While researching the role of dance as a form of therapy for the latest Wellcome Collection exhibition ‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond‘, I discovered a richly illustrated cross-cultural[…]

The Equestrian Statue of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius

Equestrian Sculpture of Marcus Aurelius, bronze, c. 173-76 C.E., (Capitoline Museums, Rome) By Dr. Jeffrey A. Becker / 08.08.2015 Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies Binghamton University The original location of the sculpture is unknown, though it had been housed in the Lateran Palace since the 8th century until it was placed in the center of[…]

World’s Fairs of the 19th Century

The Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace, 1851 / British Library By Dr. Alexander C.T. Geppert / 01.15.2018 Associate Professor of History and European Studies Global Network Associate Professor New York University Abstract As a communication medium, the world’s fairs of the 19th century were the contemporary equivalent of the present-day world wide web. Given their[…]

The Dreams of an Inventor in 1420

Johannes de Fontana, Bellicorum instrumentorum liber (1420), BSB Cod.icon. 242, f. 59v Bennett Gilbert peruses the sketchbook of 15th-century engineer Johannes de Fontana, a catalogue of designs for a variety of fantastic and often impossible inventions, including fire-breathing automatons, pulley-powered angels, and the earliest surviving drawing of a magic lantern device. By Bennett Gilbert Instructor in Philosophy[…]

Unlocking the Secrets of an Ancient Fountain

Peirene: General view of the spring facade, with Acrocorinth (the acropolis of ancient Corinth) in the background. Histories of Peirene, Robinson (2011), Figure 3 Do you picture archaeological sites as dry, dusty piles of stones? Meet Peirene, an ancient Greek ruin so tantalizing that archaeologists have literally died for it. Dry and dusty this place is[…]

Reconstructing a Masterpiece of Choir-Book Illumination by Niccolò da Bologna

Initial G: The Assumption of the Virgin, about 1392–1402, Niccolò da Bologna, from the Gradual of Niccolò di Lazzara for Santo Spirito in Farneta (Lucca). Tempera colors and gold leaf on parchment, 14 x 12 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 115 (2017.122.5), leaf 5. Gift of Elizabeth J. Ferrell Leaves by the Bolognese artist,[…]

Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance Art

Domenico di Michelino, Dante holding the Divine Comedy, 1465 (Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence) By Matthew Collins / 12.30.2015 PhD Candidate in the Italian Language Harvard University When you think of Hell, what images fill your imagination?  Your mind might first conjure up a monstrous satanic figure, and then you may further fill in the picture[…]

Modern Architecture and the Olympic Spirit

Left: Yoyogi National Gymnasium; 2nd Gymnasium. Photo courtesy of Japan Sport Council. Right: Stadio Flaminio. Photo: Matteo Cirenei / photoarch.com The Getty Foundation’s Keeping It Modern initiative announces twelve new grants, including two for former Olympic buildings. By Alexandria Sivak / 07.31.2017 Senior Communications Specialist J. Paul Getty Trust In its quest to host an[…]

Illustrating Carnival: Remembering the Overlooked Artists Behind Early Mardi Gras

Spider costume designed by Charles Briton for the “Missing Links” theme, Mistick Krewe of Comus, 1873 For more than 150 years the city of New Orleans has been known for the theatricality and extravagance of its Mardi Gras celebrations. Allison C. Meier looks at the wonderfully ornate float and costume designs from Carnival’s “Golden Age”[…]

What Are Japanese and Chinese Objects Doing in This French Aristocrat’s Bedroom?

Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, née Thérèse Feuillant, 1866, Jacques Joseph Tissot. Oil on canvas, 50 1/2 x 30 3/8 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007.7. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program By Megan Lee / 08.21.2016 2016 Multicultural Undergraduate Intern, Communications Department J. Paul Getty Museum This 1866 portrait shows a[…]

The History of the Roman Triumph

A reconstructed relief panel from the original on the Arch of Titus, Rome, c. 81 CE. The scene, showing the triumph of Titus, is carved in three-quarter view and has Titus riding a four-horse chariot (quadriga) and shows him being crowned by a personification of Victory. The goddess Roma stands in front, holding the bridle of one of the horses. The two figures[…]

The Arch of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great

Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker. Video produced by Dr. Naraelle Hohensee, Dr. Steven Zucker and Dr. Beth Harris By Dr. Andrew Findley / 09.27.2016 Assistant Professor of Art History and Humanities Ivy Tech Community College The Emperor Constantine, called Constantine the Great, was significant for several reasons. These include his political transformation of[…]