The Wooden Churches of Medieval Norway

Heddal Stave Church (Creative Commons) These historic churches feature elaborate carvings that mix Christian and Viking symbols. By Jennifer Billock / 11.14.2017 Starting in the Middle Ages, when Norway became a Christian country, former Vikings-turn-Christians built immense cathedrals and churches to honor the new religion—all made entirely from wood rather than the typical stone construction[…]

The Birth of Mass Media: Printmaking in Early Modern Europe

It can be hard to fathom the society-altering impact the new printed image had when it first appeared in Europe around 1400. By Dr. Alison Stewart Hixson-Lied Professor of Art History University of Nebraska-Lincoln It is hardly too much to say that since the invention of writing there has been no more important invention than[…]

The Printing Press and Its Impact on Literacy

Men working at a printing press, proofing copy, inking, and setting type. Wood engraving after a woodcut by Stradanus, c.1580 / Wellcome Library, Wikimedia Commons The printing press provided greater access to information for all and set the framework for the gradual transformation of societal literacy. 10.30.2010 The advent of the printing press over five[…]

Monuments of the Neolithic European Landscapes

Silbury Hill Neolithic mound. It stands 30 metres high and 160 metres wide, and comprises half a million tonnes of chalk. It is non-megalithic, but still a huge accomplishment. Copyright © Stu Smith 2013 – Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). Cropped In the Neolithic there were no maps. However, most times people[…]

The 1,000-Year-Old Buddhist Manuscript and the Stories it Tells

One of the greatest treasures of Cambridge University Library is a Buddhist manuscript that was produced in Kathmandu exactly 1,000 years ago. The exquisitely-illustrated Perfection of Wisdom is still revealing fresh secrets. 05.09.2015 One thousand years ago, a scribe called Sujātabhadra put his name to a manuscript known as the Perfection of Wisdom in Eight-Thousand[…]

Otto Wagner and the Architecture of Postal Savings Bank

Otto Wagner, Postal Savings Bank, Vienna, 1904-06 and 1910-12 “What is impractical can never be beautiful.” – Otto Wagner By Dr. Elizabeth Merrill / 11.28.2015 Historian of Art and Architecture A truly modern architecture In his 1896 manifesto Modern Architecture, Wagner expressed his ideal of practical and efficiently designed architecture. The purpose of beauty, he[…]

Multilingualism Along the Nile in Ancient Egypt

This bilingual papyrus containing magical spells and recipes dates from the early third century A.D. and is written in both Greek and Demotic. In some passages, the Greek text is also transliterated into Demotic, and vice versa. London Magical Papyrus, A.D. 200–225, Romano-Egyptian. Papyrus and ink, 9 7/16 × 33 5/8 in. The British Museum,[…]

Art and Architecture of Southeast Asia before 1200 CE

An ancient wall painting depicting the awakening of the Buddha Taṇhaṅkara in Upali Thein temple, Bagan, Myanmar / Photo by Jacklee, Wikimedia Commons The art and architecture of Southeast Asia was heavily influenced by Indian religions and artistic styles. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 08.12.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Sculpture in Southeast Asia Overview: Influences[…]

Native South American Art and Architecture before 1300 CE

Machu Picchu Exploring the work of South American indigenous people’s before colonization. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 08.12.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Ceramics in Early South America The ceramic objects of the Paracas, Nazca, and Moche communities of Peru vary in artistic forms and were important cultural artifacts. Like the Tiwanaku and Waki people of[…]

From Scroll to Codex: New Technology and New Opportunities

Madrid Codex (replica) in the Museum of the Americas, Madrid / Photo by Simon Burchell, Wikimedia Commons When the codex came along, it was a novel form for recording knowledge and information—a disruptive technology. By Anna O. Funk One of the most important disruptions in the history of the book was the invention of the[…]

Early Modern Books and Moving Images

EPB/35960/A: François Mauriceau, The accomplisht midwife, treating of the diseases of women with child, and in child-bed (London: J. Darby for B. Billingsley, 1673), first folding plate. Wellcome Images L0014457. By Rebecca Whiteley / 08.11.2016 PhD Student in History of Art University College London Looking through copies of ‘The diseases of women with child and[…]

A Very Brief Introduction to Gothic Architecture

View from north-east of Reims Cathedral (High Gothic) / Photo by G.Garitan, Wikimedia Commons By Valerie Spanswick / 08.08.2015 Freelance Writer, History of Art and Architecture Forget the association of the word “Gothic” to dark, haunted houses, Wuthering Heights, or ghostly pale people wearing black nail polish and ripped fishnets. The original Gothic style was actually developed[…]

The Practice of Tattooing in Ancient Egypt and Nubia

Tattoos on Egyptian mummy / Public Domain Tattooing was practised by many ancient societies, including the ancient Egyptians and Nubians. By Dr. Geoffrey Tassie Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Archaeology University of Edinburgh Abstract Tattooing was practised by many ancient societies, including the ancient Egyptians and Nubians. Egypt, for example, boasts iconographic and physical evidence for[…]

Founding Mothers: Postage Stamps Honoring Women’s Contributions to the Early Republic

Abigail Adams / Public Domain As state sponsored government art, stamps offer an incredibly rich visual resource. By Dr. Richard Scott Morel / 01.27.2017 Curator of Philatelic Collections British Library As state sponsored government art, stamps offer an incredibly rich visual resource for gender studies, a fact most apparent when looking at how women have[…]

Myth and Miraculous Performance: The Virgin Hodegetria in Byzantine Iconography

“She Who Points the Way.” Wall Fragment with the Virgin Mary and Coats of Arms, mid-1400s, made in Athens. Pigment on plaster, 44 1/8 x 60 5/8 in. Image courtesy of the Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens, inv. no 1111 This icon of the Virgin Mary has a fascinating story, closely intertwined with the history[…]

Ornament in Contemporary Iranian Architecture

The Āmeri House is a historic house in Kashan, in Isfahan Province, in Iran / Photo by Mastafameraji, Wikimedia Commons Examining the status of ornamental practices in contemporary Iranian architecture.      By (left-to-right) Dr. Fatemeh Ahani, Dr. Iraj Etessam, and Dr. Seyed Gholamreza Islami / 12.28.2017 Ahani: Department of Art and Architecture, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University Etessam: Department[…]

What’s My Thai Horoscope? – The Importance of Divination in Eastern Culture

Illustrations with highly symbolic meanings are used to determine the fate of people born on a particular day. Phrommachāt, 19th century. / British Library, Public Domain In traditional Thai culture, horoscopes and divination were used to establish the fate and future of people. By Jana Igunma Curation and Cataloguing Thai, Lao, and Cambodian Collections British[…]

Art as Propaganda in Ancient Greece: The Feeding of the Greek Soldier’s Ego

By Judith M. Lamb Senior Thesis Hollins University The stories of an all-female warrior race had long been told and depicted in artistic forms prior to sixth century Greece. These tales, that may have had some basis in real life events, were eventually woven into the cloak of influence that the classical Greeks wore in[…]

The Paper Revolution: The Origin of Large-Scale Technical Drawing under Henry VIII

The first important transformation of English medieval design practice occurred in a military context, during the reign of Henry VIII. Pioneering plans, surveys and designs by leading Tudor engineers are housed in the British Library, particularly within Sir Robert Cotton’s manuscript collection. Anthony Gerbino, Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of Manchester, explores[…]

The Sacred and the Sensual: Experiencing the Medieval Eroticain Temples of Khajuraho, India

Various statues carved on the temple walls depicting the Indian Gods in various moods. / Photo by Ankit Saha, Wikimedia Commons While most temples in India are considered to be sacred sites for pilgrimage and worship, a group of twenty-two temples at Khajuraho are known for the thousands of erotic carvings that saturate its exterior[…]

Meet the Real François-Thomas Germain, Sculptor-Silversmith of the Enlightenment

Centerpiece for a Table, 1754, François-Thomas Germain. Silver, 8 1/4 × 14 1/2 × 9 1/8 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005.43. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program Germain’s artistic achievements are more amazing than his radical schemes in a video game. By Charissa Bremer-David / 07.23.2018 Associate Curator, Department of Sculpture[…]

A Right Royal Gift Book: ‘The Wedding at Windsor’, 1863

Engraved illustration from Harper’s Weekly newspaper of the wedding of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and Alexandra of Denmark / Harper’s Weekly newspaper dated 11 April 1863, Wikimedia Commons Both the marriage of Edward VII and Alexandra – and the Princess’s landing at Gravesend and royal entry into London – were commemorated in a lavish volume[…]