Oct 29, 2018

The Met Just Released 400,000 Hi-Res Images of their Collection

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Here are 40 outstanding highlights from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s recently released collection of 400,000 high-resolution digital images. On 16 May 2014, Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, announced that more than 400,000 images of public domain works in the Museum’s world-renowned collection may be downloaded directly from the Museum’s website for non-commercial use—including in scholarly publications in any media—without permission from the Museum and without a fee. The number of available images will increase as new digital files are added on a regular basis.

In making the announcement, Mr. Campbell said: “Through this new, open-access policy, we join a growing number of museums that provide free access to images of art in the public domain. I am delighted that digital technology can open the doors to this trove of images from our encyclopedic collection.”

You can view the entire collection online here. There are numerous ways to browse and the classification and detail for every item is astounding. The volume and quality of work made available will benefit all with an Internet connection for generations to come.

Take a virtual tour through some of the most incredible artwork in history by visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art online.



1. Grand Pianoforte – Erard et Cie, 1840
Geography: London, England, United Kingdom
Medium: Wood, various materials


This grand piano’s marquetried satinwood case, executed by George H. Blake, is unsurpassed in elegance and iconographic complexity. A nobleman’s showpiece, the piano was commissioned by Thomas Lord Foley from the London branch of a distinguished French firm. Erard’s eighty-note, double-escapement action was the most advanced of its time. The basis for modern grand actions, it accommodated the virtuosic pianism of Chopin and Liszt. The hammers are covered with felt, first used in place of leather coverings in 1826. Strings of the top twenty-six notes pass through a perforated brass bar that secures them against the hammers’ strong blows. Longitudinal steel bars reinforce the open-bottomed case. The painted and gilded stand is a separate construction in the Louis XV style. [source]



2. Celestial globe with clockwork – Gerhard Emmoser, 1579
Culture: Austrian, Vienna
Medium: Case: silver, partly gilded, and gilt brass; movement: brass, steel


This globe houses a movement made by Gerhard Emmoser, imperial clockmaker from 1566 until his death in 1584, who signed and dated the meridian ring. The movement, which has been extensively rebuilt, rotated in the celestial sphere and drove a small image of the sun along the path of the ecliptic. The hour was indicated on a dial mounted at the top of the globe’s axis and the day of the year appeared on a calendar rotating in the instrument’s horizon ring. The silver globe, with its exquisitely engraved constellations and Pegasus support, is the work of an anonymous goldsmith who was probably employed in the imperial workshops in Vienna or Prague. [source]



3. The Triumph of Fame, ca. 1502–4
Culture: Flemish, probably Brussels | Medium: Wool, silk
Dimensions: Overall: 141 1/2 x 132 in. (359.4 x 335.3 cm)


One of the finest early Renaissance tapestries to have appeared on the market in the twentieth century, this piece is extraordinary for its condition, color, and harmonious composition. Fame stands reading at a lectern, surrounded by writers whose works immortalized the deeds of the ancients. His triumph over death is represented by the three Fates beneath his feet while above, Atropos, the Fate who cuts the thread of life, appears again, flying toward the mouth of Hell. Below, a rich carpet of flowers—some in blossom, some gone to seed—echoes the theme of mortality, and the orb in Fame’s hand, crowned with a cross, places the subject in a distinctly Christian context. Based in part on Petrarch’s poem I Trionfi, the tapestry belonged to a set of six representing the triumphs of Love, Chastity, Death, Fame, Time, and Religion. The set is the earliest known treatment of the theme in tapestry. Documented in a Spanish ducal collection in the late nineteenth century, our tapestry corresponds exactly with one in a set purchased in 1504 by Isabel, queen of Castile and Aragon. [source]



4. The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak – Albert Bierstadt, 1863
Medium: Oil on canvas | Dimensions: 73 1/2 x 120 3/4 in. (186.7 x 306.7 cm)


This painting is the major work that resulted from the artist’s first trip to the West. His intention to create panoramic views of the American frontier was apparent by December 1858, just before he embarked on the trip. In early 1859 he accompanied a government survey expedition, headed by Frederick W. Lander, to the Nebraska Territory. By summer, the party had reached the Wind River Range of the Rocky Mountains in what is now Wyoming. Bierstadt dubbed the central mountain in the picture Lander’s Peak following the colonel’s death in the Civil War. This was one of a number of large works painted after Bierstadt’s return from these travels. It was completed in 1863, exhibited to great acclaim, and purchased in 1865 for the then-astounding sum of $25,000 by James McHenry, an American living in London. Bierstadt later bought it back and gave or sold it to his brother Edward. [source]



5. Burgonet – Filippo Negroli, 1543
Culture: Italian, Milan | Medium: Embossed steel damascened with gold


This masterpiece of Renaissance metalwork is signed on the browplate by Filippo Negroli, whose embossed armor was praised by sixteenth-century writers as “miraculous” and deserving “immortal merit.” Formed of one plate of steel and patinated to look like bronze, the bowl is raised in high relief with motifs inspired by classical art. The graceful mermaidlike siren forming the helmet’s comb holds a grimacing head of Medusa by the hair. The sides of the helmet are covered with acanthus scrolls inhabited by putti, a motif ultimately derived from ancient Roman sculpture and wall paintings. [source]



6. Ceramic Horn – late 18th or early 19th century
Geography: France | Medium: Glazed pottery


This hunting horn of glazed earthenware was intended for decorative display and bears an unidentified coat of arms. [source]



7. Ceramic Stove – David II Pfau, Possibly assisted by Hans Heinrich III Pfau
Decorator: Decoration after designs by Tobias Stimmer | Decorator: and Christoph Murer
Date: ca. 1684–85 | Culture: Swiss, Winterthur | Medium: Faience (tin-enameled earthenware)


This colorful, large, ceramic stove was made for the paneled room in which it still stands, the Reiche Stübe, or “Rich Room,” of the Schlössli (Little Castle), a manor house built in 1682 for Johann Gaudenz von Capol (1641–1723), a member of the leading family of Flims, in the Protestant canton of Grisons in eastern Switzerland. Stoves were common in alpine regions, where the bitter cold of winter was unrelieved for months at a time. They provided continuous radiant heat, facilitated by the white reflecting surface of the tiles. The enclosed fire both conserved wood fuel and removed the danger of smoke and sparks common with open fires.
Made in Winterthur, an important Swiss center for faience, these tiles are painted on all sides with figures from the New Testament and stories from the Old Testament. In the lower section the faience painter used designs by Tobias Stimmer (1539–1584) published in Basel in 1576, while those decorating the upper sections were inspired by the etchings of Christoph Murer (1558–1614) published in Strasbourg in 1625. The painter added biblical references above each scene and commentaries below, finding a teaching or message for contemporary Christians in the biblical events. For example, the commentary beneath the scene of Samson and the lion reads, “As Samson’s lion gave honey after his death, so Christ’s death brings us sweet life.” It has been suggested that the pottery of David II Pfau (1644–1702) of Winterthur may have designed and produced the stove with the help of his cousin Hans Heinrich III Pfau. [source]



8. King Sahure and a Nome God, ca. 2458–2446 B.C.
Period: Old Kingdom | Dynasty: Dynasty 5 | Reign: reign of Sahure
Geography: From Egypt | Medium: Gneiss


This is the only preserved three-dimensional representation that has been identified as Sahure, the second ruler of Dynasty 5. Seated on a throne, the king is accompanied by a smaller male figure personifying the local god of the Coptite nome, the fifth nome (province) of Upper Egypt. This deity offers the king an ankh (hieroglyph meaning “life”) with his left hand. The nome standard, with its double-falcon emblem, is carved above the god’s head. Sahure wears the nemes headcloth and straight false beard of a living pharaoh. The flaring hood of the uraeus, the cobra goddess who protected Egyptian kings, is visible on his brow. The nome god wears the archaic wig and curling beard of a deity. [source]



9. Bracelet with Agathodaimon, Isis-Tyche, Aphrodite, and Terenouthis
Period: Roman Period | Date: 1st century B.C.–A.D. 1st century
Geography: From Egypt | Medium: Gold


Powerful talismans of fertility and good destiny are woven into this rich golden composition. The bodies of two snakes intertwine to form a Herakles knot, the centerpiece of this bracelet. The snake on the left represents Agathodaimon, and the cobra on the right Terenouthis, two agrarian/fertility deities associated with Serapis and Isis, respectively. On the platform between them stand two goddesses, Isis-Tyche (or Isis-Fortuna), a deity closely associated with Alexandria, and the nude Aphrodite. [source]



10. Marble column from the Temple of Artemis at Sardis
Period: Hellenistic | Date: ca. 300 B.C. | Culture: Greek | Medium: Marble


The section of a fluted Ionic column in the center of this room stood over fifty-eight feet high in its original location at the Temple of Artemis. The delicate foliate carving on the capital is unique among extant capitals from the temple, and the torus (foliated base), with its vegetal scale-like pattern, is also exceptionally elaborate. This capital is slightly smaller than others found at the site, indicating that it does not belong to the outer colonnade. Two similar pairs of columns (marked in red on the plan shown nearby) stood in the east and west porches. The column, displayed here with most of the shaft omitted, was probably originally from one or more of those pairs. Alternatively, it may be from the cella (inner room) or from the inner back porch. Parts of the fluted shaft are restored, and the profiled base below the torus is a copy of the original. [source]



11. Armchair (Fauteuil à la reine) – Georges Jacob, ca. 1780–85
Culture: French, Paris | Medium: Carved and gilded walnut; embroidered silk satin


Part of a set of seat furniture, this armchair was in the possession of Louis-Jean-Marie de Bourbon, duc de Penthièvre (1725–1793 ), grand admiral of France and a cousin of Louis XVI. Marks underneath the frame indicate that the chair was made by Georges Jacob for the ceremonial bedchamber at the duke’s Parisian residence, the Hôtel de Toulouse. As fauteuils meublants, the armchairs of the set would have been placed in a formal arrangement along the walls of the room. The smaller side chairs would have formed a second row around the center of the room.
This chair is among the few pieces of seat furniture in the Museum’s collection that have kept both their original show covers and their underupholstery. The removable back panel, arm pads, seat cushion, and edge roll below are upholstered with silk satin that is embellished with chain-stitched embroidery of high quality. [source]



12. Pair of Flintlock Pistols of Empress Catherine the Great (1729–1796)
Johan Adolph Grecke | Date: 1786 | Culture: Russian, Saint Petersburg | Medium: Steel, ivory, gold, brass


These pistols are part of a deluxe garniture of ivory-stocked hunting arms made for Empress Catherine the Great (reigned 1762–96), whose intial (E for Ekaterine) is on the escutcheons of the grips. The garniture, which originally consisted of these pistols, a fowling piece dated 1786 (National Museum, Warsaw), and a rifle (whereabouts unknown), was later given to her favorite, Prince Stanislas August Poniatowski (1732–1798), whom she backed as king of Poland (reigned 1763–95). Firearms with ivory stocks, generally out of fashion in western Europe by the eighteenth century, were in vogue in the ostentatious Russian court during the last quarter of the century. [source]



13. Allegory of the Planets and Continents – Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1752
Medium: Oil on canvas | Dimensions: 73 x 54 7/8 in. (185.4 x 139.4 cm)


This picture, Tiepolo’s largest and most dazzling oil sketch, represents Apollo about to embark on his daily course across the sky. Deities around the sun god symbolize the planets, and allegorical figures on the cornice represent the four continents. Tiepolo presented this preliminary sketch to Carl Philipp von Greiffenklau, the prince-bishop of Würzburg, on April 20, 1752, as his proposal for the decoration of the vast staircase ceiling of the Residenz, often considered the artist’s greatest achievement. [source]



14. Beaker (“Monkey Cup”), ca. 1425–50
Geography: Made in probably the Burgundian territories | Culture: South Netherlandish
Medium: Silver, silver gilt, and painted enamel


One of the finest surviving examples of medieval enamel created for a princely table, this beaker illustrates a popular legend that remarks on the folly of man. A peddler is robbed by a band of apes as he sleeps. The peddler, seen just above the base, fails to stir even as the apes strip away his clothes. Other apes, having taken his goods, cavort in the branches overhead. The beaker originally had a cover. The unusual grisaille (shades of gray) enamel technique is found on several other surviving objects, all of which have been associated with the courts of the dukes of Burgundy. [source]



15. Secretary-bookcase, 1830
Geography: Mid-Atlantic, New York, New York, United States | Culture: American | Medium: Mahogany, pine, poplar


Neoclassicism was the dominant style in American furniture for the first four decades of the nineteenth century. In contrast to the earlier Neoclassical designs characterized by light, delicate forms and geometric lines, this secretary, or writing desk, is associated with the later phase of Neoclassicism between 1815 and 1845. While by definition all Neoclassical furniture draws upon the past through the use of motifs and elements from antiquity such as acanthus leaves, animal-paw feet, and palmettes, late Neoclassical furniture is distinguished by its bold forms and often monumental character.
Aside from its obvious decorative appeal, this piece served a practical function as a writing desk: the front molding pulls out to reveal a writing surface flanked by compartments for ink, and the drawers and shelves above would have provided storage space for papers, letters, and books. [source]



16. Wedding ensemble, 1864
Culture: French | Medium: cotton


A rounded shoulderline that enhanced the length of the neck was prized through most of the nineteenth century. From the 1830s to the 1880s, it was accomplished by the lowered splayed stance of corset straps. The open neckline apparent in this wedding dress and the underbodice of this summer gown from the period suggests its romantic effect. [source]



17. The Town on the Hill, New Almaden
Carleton E. Watkins | Date: 1863 | Medium: Albumen silver print from glass negative


Watkins, the consummate photographer of the American West, combined a virtuoso mastery of the difficult wet-plate negative process with a rigorous sense of pictorial structure. In 1863 he was hired to make a photographic survey of the quicksilver mining operations in New Almaden, near San Jose, California. Quicksilver—used to bond with, and weigh down, the finest particles of gold that might otherwise float away in the sluicing process—was essential to the gold-mining industry, and the mining of quicksilver itself became a profitable enterprise.
Watkins’s clients hoped to use his photographs to convince potential investors of the promise of the New Almaden site. To this end Watkins made numerous stereographic views documenting minute details of the mining process as well as mammoth views that were meant to show the town to its best possible advantage. Capitalizing on the calm of the hazy early morning and a picturesque vantage point, Watkins portrayed the mining camp as a charming mountain village possessing an appealing tidiness and an air of perfect tranquility. [source]



18. Venice, from the Porch of Madonna della Salute
Joseph Mallord William Turner | Date: ca. 1835 | Medium: Oil on canvas


Turner drew on his considerable experience as a marine painter and the brilliance of his technique as a watercolorist to create this view, in which the foundations of the palaces of Venice merge into the waters of the lagoon by means of delicate reflections. He based the composition on a rather slight pencil drawing made during his first trip to Venice, in 1819, but the painting is really the outcome of his second visit, in 1833. He exhibited this canvas to wide acclaim at the Royal Academy, London, in 1835. [source]



19. Cypresses – Vincent van Gogh, 1889
Medium: Oil on canvas


Cypresses was painted in late June 1889, shortly after Van Gogh began his yearlong stay at the asylum in Saint-Rémy. The subject, which he found “beautiful as regards lines and proportions, like an Egyptian obelisk,” both captivated and challenged the artist: “It’s the dark patch in a sun-drenched landscape, but it’s one of the most interesting dark notes, the most difficult to hit off exactly that I can imagine.” One of two close-up views of the “very tall and massive” trees in a vertical format (the other is in the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo), Cypresses was shown in the 1890 Salon des Indépendants. [source]



20. Dagger with Zoomorphic Hilt, second half 16th century
Geography: India, Deccan, Bijapur or Golconda | Culture: Islamic
Medium: Hilt: copper; cast, chased, gilded, and inlaid with rubies. Blade: steel; forged


Portraits of Sultan ‘Ali ‘Adil Shah of Bijapur (r. 1558–80) show him wearing daggers with zoomorphic hilts similar to this one. In this superlative, ruby-studded hilt, a dragon, whose tail wraps around the grip, attacks a lion, which in turn attacks a deer, symbolism associated with the deity Garuda. Before the deer is a parrotlike bird with a snake in its beak. Lower down on the hilt is the head of a yali, a mythical lionlike animal, with floral scrolls issuing from its mouth. [source]



21. Ewer
Date: Porcelain 1573–1620; mounts ca. 1585
Culture: Chinese with British (London) mounts | Medium: Porcelain, silver-gilt


In the sixteenth century Chinese porcelain was occasionally brought to England, sometimes by way of the Levant, sometimes by sea around the Cape of Good Hope. As it was very rare and considered a special treasure, the most accomplished English silversmiths were often commissioned to make mounts for it. Pieces such as these were regarded as suitable for royal gifts or for the furnishing of princely houses.
The ewer shown here is one of a group of Chinese porcelains of the Wan Li period (1575–1619) with silver-gilt mounts made by an unidentified English silversmith about 1585. They were all acquired by the Museum from the estate of J.P. Morgan. [source]



22. The Coronation of the Virgin
Annibale Carracci | Date: after 1595 | Medium: Oil on canvas


Annibale Carracci, together with Caravaggio, was the most influential painter of the seventeenth century and the main figure in the development of classicism. This picture was painted for Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini (1571–1621), shortly after Annibale’s arrival in Rome in 1595. In it, Annibale brought together two currents of Italian painting: a north Italian sensitivity to the effects of natural light and color, and the spatial organization and idealized figures associated with the Renaissance. Raphael’s frescoes in the Vatican inspired the composition, while the figure of God the Father was based on an ancient Roman sculpture. [source]



23. Cittern – Joachim Tielke ca. 1685
Geography: Hamburg, Germany | Medium: Wood, ivory, ebony and other materials


The bell-shaped cittern was a specialty of the city of Hamburg and is properly referred to as the Hamburger Cithrinchen. It was a fashionable instrument from about 1650 to 1750 from which time several examples survive. This particular example is lavishly decorated with ebony foliate decoration on a white ground. The cypress belly has three rosettes made of parchment and showing traces of an original green pigment. The pegbox has the head of a Moorish king. [source]



24. Model Granary from the Tomb of Meketre, ca. 1981–1975 B.C.
Period: Middle Kingdom | Dynasty: Dynasty 12 | Reign: reign of Amenemhat I, early
Geography: From Egypt, Upper Egypt; Thebes, Southern Asasif, Tomb of Meketre, serdab, MMA 1920
Medium: Wood, plaster, paint, linen, grain


This model of a granary was discovered in a hidden chamber at the side of the passage leading into the rock cut tomb of the royal chief steward Meketre, who began his career under King Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II of Dynasty 11 and continued to serve successive kings into the early years of Dynasty 12.
The four corners of this model granary are peaked in a manner that is sometimes still found in southern Egypt today presumably to offer additional protection against thieves and rodents. The interior is divided into two main sections: the granary proper, where grain was stored, and an accounting area. Keeping track of grain supplies was crucial in an agricultural society, and it is noteworthy that the six men carrying sacks of grain here are outnumbered by nine men taking care of measuring and accounting. Of the four scribes two are using papyrus scrolls, two write on wooden writing boards. [source]



25. Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct
Théodore Gericault | Date: 1818 | Medium: Oil on canvas


This work is one of a projected set of four monumental landscapes representing the times of day that Gericault painted in his Paris studio. (Only three were completed.) Conceived as a decorative ensemble, the paintings fuse souvenirs of ruins in the Italian countryside, which the artist had visited in 1816 and 1817, with the grand manner exemplified by past masters Nicolas Poussin and Joseph Vernet. The stormy sky and turbulent mood of this picture exemplify notions of the Sublime and the aesthetic of the emerging Romantic movement. [source]



26. Boiserie from the Hôtel de Varengeville
Date: ca. 1736–52, with later additions | Culture: French, Paris | Medium: Carved, painted, and gilded oak


Superb carving, partly in high relief, constitutes the chief glory of this paneling, which comes from one of the private residences of eighteenth century Paris, the Hotel de Varengeville, which still stands, much altered, at 217, boulevard Saint-Germain. It was built by the architect Jacques Gabriel (1667–after 1742) for Charlotte-Angelique Courtin, comtesse de Varengeville, whose daughter, Jeanne-Angelique Roque de Varengeville, duchesse de Villars, inherited the house in 1732. The duchesse de Villars sold the house four years later to Marie-Marguerite d’Allegre, comtesse de Ruppelmonde, who owned the building until her death in 1752 and who is likely to have commissioned the Museum’s paneling. Certain aspects of the carved ornament, such as the placement of the long-necked birds perched on the scrolling frames of the wall panels and mirrors, are related to a drawing that has been attributed to Nicolas Pineau (1648–1754 ). [source]



27. Century Vase – Karl L. H. Müller, 1877
Geography: Mid-Atlantic, Brooklyn, New York, United States | Culture: American | Medium: Porcelain


The sculptor Karl Müller designed a number of works for the Union Porcelain Works display at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. Among his most notable were a pair of large Century vases, each covered with a profusion of historical scenes and novel combinations of patriotic motifs in relief. Identical in form and relief decoration to the Century vases, this vase is about ten inches smaller and is one of about twelve known in this size. North American bison heads serve as handles; a profile portrait of George Washington embellishes each side; and each of the six biscuit-relief panels around the base depicts a different scene from American history. It is unique in being the sole version that bears the designer’s signature. The museum owns a pair of small Centennial vases (69.194.1,2) and a large-size undecorated example. [source]



28. Merry Company on a Terrace – Jan Steen ca. 1670
Medium: Oil on canvas


In this late painting of about 1673–75, Steen casts himself as the inebriated innkeeper on the left. The artist’s second wife, Maria, probably modeled for the provocatively posed hostess (she wears an apron) in the center. Her glass and the fat man’s jug are sexually suggestive, but the woman’s familiarity with the young musician and the shape of his cittern suggest that he has more to offer her. The overdressed boy serves as a marginal remark about the adults’ behavior: a bridled horse and a whip usually stand for Temperance, but not when hitched to a spoiled brat and his indignant dog. The man with a sausage pinned to his hat is Hans Wurst, a fool familiar from the comic stage. Steen wittily blends symbols and themes (for example, child-rearing and the Garden of Love) into an original creation, quite as the picture’s style seems to blend oil and water by mixing the manners of Gerard ter Borch and Jacob Jordaens. [source]



29. Armor (Gusoku)
Helmet bowl signed Saotome Iyetada (Japanese, Edo period, active early–mid-19th century)
Armorer: Breastplate inscribed inside, Myōchin Munesuke (Japanese, Edo period, 1688–1735)
Date: 16th and 18th centuries | Culture: Japanese | Medium: Iron, lacquer, silk, gilt copper


This example comes from the armory of Date Yoshimura (1703–1746), daimyo (lord) of Sendai. The helmet bowl, signed Saotome Iye[tada?], dates from the sixteenth century; the remainder of the armor was constructed in the eighteenth century. The breastplate is inscribed inside with the armorer’s name, Myōchin Munesuke (1688–1735). The embossed ornament on the solid iron plates is characteristic of the Myōchin school. [source]



30. I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold
Charles Demuth | Date: 1928 | Geography: Object plac
Medium: Oil, graphite, ink, and gold leaf on paperboard (Upson board)


“I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold” is one of a series of eight abstract portraits of friends, inspired by Gertrude Stein’s word-portraits, that Demuth made between 1924 and 1929. This painting pays homage to a poem by William Carlos Williams. Like Marsden Hartley’s “Portrait of a German Officer” and Arthur Dove’s “Ralph Dusenberry,” this portrait consists not of a physical likeness of the artist’s friend but of an accumulation of images associated with him — the poet’s initials and the names “Bill” and “Carlos” that together form a portrait. [source]



31. The Penitence of Saint Jerome
Joachim Patinir | Date: ca. 1512–15 | Medium: Oil on wood


Acknowledging Patinir’s leading role in a new genre, Albrecht Dürer referred to the artist in 1521 as the “good landscape painter.” This intact altarpiece was probably a German commission, since its exterior wings show Sebald, patron saint of Nuremberg, and Saint Anne with the Virgin and Child. Following Netherlandish tradition, large-scale sacred figures dominate the foreground of the interior: Saint John baptizing Christ, Saint Jerome, and Saint Anthony the Hermit with the monsters that assailed him. The picture’s true subject, however, is the magnificent panoramic landscape, which the viewer is encouraged to travel through visually in the manner of a pilgrimage. [source]



32. Decanter – Bakewell, Page & Bakewell ca. 1826–35
Geography: Mid-Atlantic, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States | Culture: American
Medium: Blown and cut glass; clay cameo


One of a pair (its mate is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art), this decanter features elaborate cut decoration. It is distinguished by a sulphide portrait of Benjamin Franklin on the front. A difficult technique developed in Europe, a high-fired ceramic material is embedded into a bubble of glass, which is then deflated so the image is surrounded by glass. Highly fashionable in France, sulphide portrait decoration was first produced in America by the Pittsburgh firm Bakewell, Page, and Bakewell in 1825 in an effort to compete with European glass manufacturers. The Museum has two glass tumblers with sulphide portraits embedded in their bases, one depicting George Washington (1984.152), the other Lafayette (1947.44). [source]



33. Cabinet- Ébéniste: Charles-Guillaume Diehl, 1867
Artist: Mounts and large central plaque by Emmanuel Frémiet | Designer: Jean Brandely (French, active 1855–67)
Culture: French, Paris | Medium: Oak veneered with cedar, walnut, ebony and ivory; silvered-bronze mounts


When the prototype for this compelling cabinet, now in the collection of the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, was exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in 1867, it received mixed criticism. The cabinetmaker must have been pleased with the controversial piece because he commissioned this second, nearly identical one for himself. The central plaque by the sculptor Emmanuel Frémiet commemorates the military triumph of Merovech (d. 458), leader of the Salian Franks, over Attila and his marauding Huns at the Battle of the Catalaunian Field in 451. In a vivid and unsettling representation, Merovech stands before his troops at the front of the chariot as it passes over the dead body of an opponent. [source]



34. Booklet with Scenes of the Passion
Date: carving ca. 1300, painting ca. 1310–20 | Culture: North French (carving), Upper Rhenish (painting)
Medium: Elephant ivory, polychromy, and gilt


Gothic ivory carvings of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries took many forms, including diptychs, triptychs, caskets, combs, and mirror backs. One of the most exceptional objects, however, is the ivory booklet. Secular examples were common, but tablets with religious subjects were extremely rare and are known primarily from surviving inventories.
This diminutive booklet is unusual in that the exterior covers are not the only carved components: the interior of each cover and its outer vertical edge are carved as well. The subjects of the upper and lower exterior covers are (from right to left, bottom to top): the Betrayal of Christ, Judas’ acceptance of the thirty pieces of silver, the Flagellation, Pilate washing his hands, the Way to Calvary, and the Crucifixion, in which Christ is surrounded by the two thieves and the event is witnessed by the Virgin and John the Evangelist. Scenes and figures secondary to the principal narratives are continued on the outer vertical edges, so that Judas committing suicide is adjacent to the Way to Calvary (at the upper left), Longinus with his spear and sword is alongside the Crucifixion (at the upper right), and a counselor (?) appears next to the scene with Pilate (at the lower right). On the interior of the front cover is a carving of the standing Virgin and Child beneath a trefoil arch and between kneeling donors, and on the interior of the back cover is a depiction of the Coronation of the Virgin, also set beneath a trefoil arch. [source]



35. The Beeches – Asher Brown Durand, 1845
Medium: Oil on canvas


This work, featuring meticulously rendered beech and basswood trees, was painted for the New York collector Abraham M. Cozzens, then a member of the executive committee of the American Art-Union. The painting illustrates a new trend in the work of the Hudson River School, with its diminished emphasis on sublime drama and increased interest in naturalism and in the creation of a tranquil mood. Durand was influenced by the work of the English landscape painter John Constable, whose vertical formats and truth to nature he absorbed while visiting England in 1840. “The Beeches” resembles Constable’s “The Cornfield” (National Gallery, London). This work is also the first one Durand based on a plein-air oil sketch, a technique the artist increasingly relied upon to reproduce accurately conditions of light and shade. [source]



36. Rapier of Prince-Elector Christian II of Saxony
Israel Schuech | Date: dated 1606 | Culture: German, Dresden
Medium: Steel; gilt bronze, with traces of enamel, paste jewels, cameos, pearls, wood


This hilt is the only recorded work of the Dresden sword cutler Israel Schuech. It is one of the best examples of a rapier hilt made with the same materials, techniques, and quality as the fine sculpture, jewelry, and goldsmiths’ work for which the Saxon Court was famous. [source]



37. The Destruction of the Hosts of Pharoah
Master IC (probably Jean Court) | Artist: or Jean Cour (or Court) | Date: probably early 17th century
Medium: Painted enamel on copper, partly gilt


This large oval plate, representing the Destruction of the Hosts of Pharoah as described in Exodus 13-15, is a superb example of French Renaissance painted enamel. The term “enamel” denotes the technique of enriching metal with the application of glass-like material, not unlike a glaze on ceramics. From antiquity to the fourteenth century, enamel production relied on the application of narrow strips of metal to the surface in order to isolate colors. Painted enamel, perfected in Limoges after decades of experimentation, was a far more complex approach. The resulting image depended on the successful manipulation of the enamel colors with the supporting metal.
Jean de Court, sometimes called the Master I.C., was highly esteemed not only for the fine craftsmanship of his enamels, but as a painter to royalty. He succeeded François Clouet as Court painter to Charles IX (reigned 1556-74). [source]



38. Afternoon dress ca. 1855
Culture: French | Medium: cotton


Nineteenth-century gauze dresses incorporate the romance of the buta motif in fabrics that bear no relation to the original Kashmiri wools. In the West, the paisley-wool ligature becomes dissociated, chiefly because of paisley’s extraordinary popularity: it becomes a design motif for all seasons. By the twentieth century, paisley in the West comes to be associated was much with silk and cotton — notably in home furnishings and men’s neckties — as with wool. [source]



39. Marble statue of a member of the imperial family
Period: Augustan or Julio-Claudian | Date: 27 B.C.–A.D. 68 | Culture: Roman | Medium: Marble


This statue and the similar work to the left are important additions to the small number of standing half-draped male figures known today that were part of Julio-Claudian dynastic commemorative groups. Statues of members of the imperial family, both living and already deceased, were often displayed together in public spaces such as the forum of a city, a basilica, or the theater. [source]



40. Heart of the Andes
Frederic Edwin Church | Date: 1859 | Medium: Oil on canvas


This picture was inspired by Church’s second trip to South America in the spring of 1857. Church sketched prolifically throughout his nine weeks travel in Ecuador, and many extant watercolors and drawings contain elements found in this work. The picture was publicly unveiled in New York at Lyrique Hall, 756 Broadway, on April 27, 1859. Subsequently moved to the gallery of the Tenth Street Studio Building, it was lit by gas jets concealed behind silver reflectors in a darkened chamber. The work caused a sensation, and twelve to thirteen thousand people paid twenty-five cents apiece to file by it each month. The picture was also shown in London, where it was greatly admired as well. [source]




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