Savagery - Arcadia - Consummation - Destruction - Desolation. The five stages of The Course of Empire, a fascinating quintet of paintings by 19th century artist and Hudson River School pioneer Thomas Cole. In it, an imaginary settlement by the sea becomes the stage for all the dreams and nightmares of civilized life, a rural woodland grown in time into a glorious metropolis... only to be ransacked by corruption, war, and a terrible storm, at last reduced to a forgotten ruin. At times deceptively simple, each landscape teems with references to cultural and philosophical markers that dominated the era's debate about the future of America. Interactive analysis of the series on a zoomable canvas is available via the excellent Explore Thomas Cole project, which also offers a guided tour and complete gallery of the dozens of other richly detailed and beautifully luminous works by this master of American landscape art.
Once upon a time, there was a wizard who knew what Heaven and Hell looked like.On Joseph Michael Gandy (1771 – 1843), the architect's assistant who painted palaces that never were and ruins that had yet to be. [more inside]
This Man was Hired to Depress Art This is the opinion of Will Blake my Proofs of this Opinion are given in the following Notes [more inside]
James Gurney (of Dinotopia fame) blogs at Gurney Journey daily about making art, making worlds, and making faces.
In a Michelangelo Fresco, Visions of a Brain Stem. "It has been hiding in plain sight for the past 500 years, and now two Johns Hopkins professors believe they have found it: one of Michelangelo’s rare anatomical drawings in a panel high on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo was a conscientious student of human anatomy and enthusiastically dissected corpses throughout his life, but few of his anatomical drawings survive. This one, a depiction of the human brain and brain stem, appears to be drawn on the neck of God, but not all art historians can see it there."
Investigating Bellini's Feast of the Gods takes apart the layers of Feast of the Gods, painted by Giovanni Bellini, repainted by Dosso Dossi, and repainted again by Tiziano Vecellio--that is, Titian. Visitors can see the results of x-rays and other imaging techniques, view the painting's changing context in the Duke of Ferrara's gallery, and examine details in close-up. [more inside]
Cranach Magnified, courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, enables users to compare and analyze the "surprisingly minute features" of several paintings by the great Lucas Cranach the Elder. For much more Cranach, visit the extensive listing at Artcyclopedia, which includes, among other things, the woodcuts at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; several paintings at the Kunsthistorisches Museum; and more paintings at the National Gallery of Art.
Illustrated Quixote is a Brown University Library digital project--one of many inspired by the 400th anniversary of Don Quixote in 2005--that allows you to search/browse and view illustrations of Don Q produced between 1725 and 1884. There are a number of other excellent sites devoted to illustrations and paintings of the novels, as well as to the publishing history of the novel itself, notably The Cervantes Project, OSU's Digitized Historical Editions of Don Quixote, Georgetown U's Tilting at Windmills, and the Don Quixote de la Mancha digital exhibit.
India's Ancient Art. "Fifth-century painters created stunning murals in dim man-made caves. A gifted photographer brings them to light." [more inside]
Van Gogh's Letters unabridged & annotated. Searchable by topic or keyword.