Depicting the Devil: How Propaganda Posters Portrayed Nazi Ideology

The poster became a cheap transmitter of these various messages and combined visual arts with psychological methods to incessantly repeat Nazi ideologies to the German public. In 1925, a bellicose Adolf Hitler understood that he needed the power of mass persuasion to push his political ideology on the German people. Citing propaganda as an essential component of statecraft[…]

Topography and Prehistoric Britain

Britain’s prehistoric landscapes are depicted in prints and drawings across the British Library’s collections. The prehistoric monuments of Britain are strewn across the landscape but because their identity and purpose has been obscured, they have presented a challenge to topographers.  Of all of them, Stonehenge was too monumental to be ignored and its representation dominates[…]

Ancient Portrait Bust from Palmyra Joins the Collection of the Getty Villa

Once adorned with gold and paint, this ornate limestone bust depicts a prosperous resident of the ancient city. Introduction Hadirat Katthina has come to the Getty Villa. The J. Paul Getty Museum recently acquired the portrait of a woman who lived—and died—in the fabled ancient Syrian caravan city of Palmyra around the years 200 to[…]

Traveling Artists in 19th-Century Latin America: Visions and Views

Visual registers of Latin America acquired new characteristics at the dawning of the 19th century. Introduction Alongside the pointedly secular practice of the scientific Enlightenment, naturalistic in character, there emerged an artistic current that produced images with a strong subjective quality. This American iconography of the 19th century was the work of traveling artists. In[…]

Mestre Valentim and the Passeio Publico Architecture in Rio de Janeiro

The Passeio Publico represented several groundbreaking achievements. Introduction In the middle of the eighteenth century a series of epidemics ravaged the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The illness was attributed to the unsanitary air caused by human and animal waste in Lake Boqueirão. The viceroy Luis de Vasconcelos e Sousa ordered the lake to be filled[…]

Icescapes: A History of Exploring and Printing the Arctic

Arctic ice has long proved a stern adversary to explorers. Exploring the representation of this fearful foe by explorers across the centuries. As Francis Spufford’s 2003 book I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination argues, ice has a powerful hold on the English imagination. Today this is commonly articulated by summoning the names of[…]

Medieval Japan’s Itsukushima Shinto Shrine

Traditionally founded in the 6th century CE, the present layout of buildings dates to the 12th century CE. Introduction Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine on the island of the same name, also known as Miyajima, located in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan. Traditionally founded in the 6th century CE, the present layout of buildings dates[…]

Loos, Lewdness, and Literature: 17th-Century Graffiti in Georgian England Public Latrines

In the early 1730s, a mysterious editor (known only as “Hurlothrumbo”) committed to print a remarkable anthology: transcriptions of the graffiti from England’s public latrines. For all its misogynistic and scatological tendencies, this little-known book of “latrinalia” offers a unique and fascinating window into Georgian life. The literary scholar Roger Lonsdale once suggested that our[…]

Inventing ‘America’: The Engravings of Theodore de Bry

Introduction In the center of this image we see a finely-dressed Christopher Columbus with two soldiers. Columbus stands confidently, his left foot forward with his pike planted firmly in the ground, signaling his claim over the land. Behind him to the left, three Spaniards raise a cross in the landscape, symbolizing a declaration of the[…]

Meritamun: Brought to Life 2,000 Years Later

Modern technology and research restores an ancient Egyptian woman, Meritamun, creating a unique teaching tool for medicine and health science. Introduction Reconstructed from a mummified head dating back at least two millennia, the fine-featured ancient Egyptian face looks out from an artist’s studio in the forested hills of rural Victoria. Ancient Egypt has fascinated everyone[…]

We’re Just Beginning to Grasp the Toll of ISIS’s Archaeological Looting in Syria

A small portion of a site can yield thousands of objects, adding up to millions of dollars. By Dr. Fiona Greenland (Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia), Dr. James Marrone (Adjunct Lecturer of International Economics, Johns Hopkins University), Dr. Oya Topçuoğlu (Lecturer, Northwestern University), and Dr. Tasha Vorderstrasse (University and Continuing Education Program Coordinator[…]

The Fight to Save Syrian Antiquities

Scholars across the globe have joined forces to preserve the beleaguered country’s cultural heritage for all our sakes. By Gabrielle Murphy Introduction For Andrew Jamieson, the conflict unfolding in Syria is a catastrophe on multiple levels – professionally and personally. By day (or more correctly, semester) Dr Jamieson is a senior lecturer and celebrated teacher[…]

American Culture’s Unlikely Debt to a British Scientist

A fortuitous influx of cash launched the Smithsonian’s first art collection. In 1835, through an unlikely turn of events, the young United States became the beneficiary of the estate of one James Smithson, a British scientist of considerable means who had never set foot on American soil. The gift of $500,000 (about $12 million today)[…]

A Royal Armchair Traveler: The Grand Tour and George III’s Topographical Collection

George III never visited Italy. Instead he collected prints, drawings, and guidebooks enabling him to travel virtually to antiquity’s greatest architectural and artistic sites. A large number of views and maps in the King’s Topographical Collection correspond to locations that were once linked to the Grand Tour.[1] Visiting the settings associated with the classical authors they had studied[…]

An Artistic and Architectural History of the Great Mosque of Damascus

Damascus is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. To understand the importance of the Great Mosque of Damascus, built by the Umayyad caliph, al-Walid II between 708 and 715 C.E., we need to look into the recesses of time. Damascus is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world,[…]

A Thousand Years of the Persian Book

Persian gained prominence as a literary language and a lingua franca—a common cultural language—about a thousand years ago. Introduction In the past millennium, a rich and varied written and spoken heritage has developed in the Persian language, elevating the visibility of Persian civilization among world intellectual traditions. That tradition is particularly strong in the fields[…]

Leonardo’s Depiction of Mary and Jesus Tells Us about His Religious Beliefs

Leonardo da Vinci emphasized the naturalness of the relationship of Jesus and Mary in his art, while also inviting viewers into a religious message. On the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, Italian academic Francesco Caglioti’s recent claim that a sculpture held at a London museum bears close similarities with the work of the Renaissance genius[…]

Architecture of Ancient Sri Lanka

The architecture of ancient Sri Lanka displays a rich diversity. Introduction The architecture of ancient Sri Lanka displays a rich diversity, varying in form and architectural style from the Anuradhapura Kingdom (377 BC–1017) through the Kingdom of Kandy (1469–1815). Sinhalese architecture also displays many ancient North Indian influences. Buddhism had a significant influence on Sri Lankan architecture after it was introduced to the island in[…]

Medieval Women’s Early Involvement in Manuscript Production

The discovery of lapis lazuli pigment preserved in the dental calculus of a religious woman in Germany radiocarbon-dated to the 11th or early 12th century, a rare pigment used in illuminated manuscripts. By Dr. Anita Radini (et.al.)Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in Medical HumanitiesUniversity of York Abstract During the European Middle Ages, the opening of long-distance[…]

The Birth of the Book: On Christians, Romans, and the Codex

The codex didn’t catch on until surprisingly late in the ancient world. By Benjamin HarnettClassics Scholar A codex is just the Roman name for a book, made of pages, and usually bound on the left. Its predecessor was the scroll or book roll, which was unrolled as you read. The codex is manifestly superior: one[…]

A Brief Overview of Jewish History from the Diaspora to the Middle Ages

Jews living in Europe were easy, early targets for Crusaders while life was comparatively tranquil in Islamic lands. By Dr. Jessica Hammerman (left) and Dr. Shaina Hammerman (right)Jessica Hammerman: Professor of History, Central Oregon Community CollegeShaina Hammerman: Professor of Jewish History and Culture, Lehrhaus Judaica For every period of Jewish history, interactions with non-Jews have been essential to forming Jewish[…]

Notre Dame Echoes of Russia’s 1837 Winter Palace Blaze

After the building that symbolized ‘all that is Russian’ went up in flames, the czar scrambled to restore it to its former glory. In a city graced with remarkable architecture, the cathedral of Notre Dame may be Paris’ most striking edifice. So when it was engulfed by a fire that toppled its spire, it seemed as if[…]

Notre Dame: Nine Centuries of Change, Renovation, and Renewal

The Notre Dame Cathedral wasn’t static. The design, as with most cathedrals, kept changing to keep up with the changing times. The Notre-Dame de Paris had been damaged and changed many times since it was begun in the mid-12th century. But the fire on April 15 might have been its most catastrophic event. Located on the eastern end[…]

Ancient and Medieval Hindu Architecture

The first Hindu temples were built from rock-cut caves. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Hindu architecture evolved over the centuries from simple rock-cut cave shrines to massive and ornate temples which spread across the Indian sub-continent and beyond, forming a canonical style which is still adhered to today in modern Hindu temples across the globe. Essential[…]

Leonardo da Vinci Joined Art with Engineering

As Leonardo da Vinci found centuries ago, scholars of art, design, engineering and science can work together for mutual benefit. Leonardo da Vinci’s remarkable capacity for careful observation made him an astonishing artist and a brilliant scientist. He was able to compare the speed of a bird’s wing movement downwards and upwards. He noticed the differences[…]

500th Anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s Death – 8 Things You May Not Know

Dead five centuries, Leonardo retains a rock star’s fame, well known around the world by just one name. Here, some facts about the man and his legacy. This year marks the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death. Widely considered one of the greatest polymaths in human history, Leonardo was an inventor, artist, musician, architect,[…]

The Propaganda Posters that Won the U.S. Home Front in World War II

Artists suddenly became soldiers on the front to win the hearts and minds of the American public. Introduction In 1917, James Montgomery Flagg created his iconic Uncle Sam poster encouraging American men to join the war cause with the clear message, “I want you for the U.S. Army!” as the U.S. ramped up preparations to enter[…]