January 2013: The Sorceress

L’envoûteuse (The Sorceress), Georges Merle The worldview of Europeans in the 19th century expanded far beyond their own borders. While Napoleon’s military campaigns exposed the French to Moorish culture in Spain and North Africa, the Industrial Revolution introduced the railroad, which made distant lands, cultures, and peoples more accessible. Artists interested in the Middle and […]

December 2012: Cradleboard

Cradleboard, Kiowa or Comanche people, about 1850-1870 The Kiowa and Comanche peoples once inhabited the plains and hills of central North America. Rather than establishing permanent settlements for farming, these nomads followed herds of buffalo, an animal that provided both food and raw materials for everyday objects. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the acquisition […]

November 2012: The Ascetic Sakyamuni

The Ascetic Sakyamuni, Chinese Buddhist practitioners strive for nirvana, or enlightenment, when they no longer yearn for earthly temptations or desires. For Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha and the religion’s most important teacher, this moment came after six years of extreme asceticism, or self-denial. Shortly before his enlightenment, the Buddha finally accepted a meager meal out […]

October 2012: Three for Five

Three for Five, John George Brown, 1890 Child labor was common in large urban areas in the second half of the 19th century. Parents often forced their children to work out of necessity to support the family. Street urchins interested John George Brown and other 19th-century artists. The boy in Brown’s Three for Five tries […]