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Yellow—corresponding with earth in traditional Chinese art and culture—was considered the most beautiful color. Reserved for the Emperor and his court and therefore a forbidden color, such rigid regulations had loosened by the 19th century and yellow vessels, garments, and painted decorations were produced more widely.
This magnificent earring represents Zeus, the king of the gods, as an eagle. The wings, talons, and thunderbolts are sheet gold and filigree; the body is covered with tiny granules of gold. Miniature sculptures of birds and mythological flying creatures were popular pendants for women’s earrings during the Hellenistic period.
Although Aimé-Jules Dalou’s life ambition was to become a sculptor of public monuments, he found great success in sculpting tabletop interior scenes like Woman Reading. Dalou has captured an intimate moment of a woman absorbed in a book, a common and appropriate pastime for upper-class 19th-century women. The figure represents an archetype of a stylish […]
Without knowing the title of this painting, would you guess it is a landscape? Perhaps not, but verisimilitude was not Willem de Kooning’s goal. Instead, he sought to absorb the landscape around him and translate it into an abstract language of paint on canvas. Entering the United States as a stowaway on a ship in […]
Louise Bourgeois designed this necklace as a personal statement against the violence she had witnessed against prisoners during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39), who were asphyxiated by shackles of this shape. It was also designed as a comment about the female state, a metaphor for the social, political, and legal constraintsof women before the […]
In this frank and intimate portrait, artist Jared French (1905–1988) gazes candidly out at the viewer. Paul Cadmus painted it while he and French were traveling in Europe. At the time the two were involved in a relationship. Cadmus depicts French holding a copy of Ulysses by Irish author James Joyce (1882–1941). From its publication […]
The rapid spread of Islam after its establishment in the 7th century unified a vast region from India to Spain, and brought stability to the administrative disarray left by the fall of the Roman and Sasanian empires. With this new peace, trade expanded, crisscrossing the Islamic world and beyond. Potters and other artists also traveled, […]
Imagine a warrior’s eyes peering out at you through this Corinthian-style helmet. No doubt that daunting sight often prevented observers from noticing the helmet’s streamlined design or the “Egyptian” shape of its eye-holes that imitated the dark kohl outline used to protect the eyes from harsh glare. After being used in battle, such helmets may […]
Ohara Koson was a master of the kachoga print—images of the natural world, but particularly of birds and flowers. Over his career he produced more than 450 designs of birds. One of Koson’s favorite subjects, the jungle crow was revered in Japanese folklore as a messenger of the gods. Koson’s keen sense of design is […]
African American designer Art Smith frequently used symbols from West African tribal jewelry as elements in his own designs. The solid brass portion of this necklace, for example, resembles jewelry worn by members of the Asante court of Ghana. Smith’s elegant design with its curved forms emphasizes the relationship between body and jewelry.