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"How to Keep Your Cat, c. 1470"

If you have a good cat and you don't want to lose it, you must rub its nose and four legs with butter for three days, and it will never leave the house. [more inside]
posted by Quietgal on Sep 13, 2014 - 63 comments

How to Mount a Horse in Armor and Other Chivalric Problems

Just how heavy and cumbersome was medieval armor? Who wore it? What did it look like? To find out, watch How to Mount a Horse in Armor and Other Chivalric Problems, an entertaining, informative, and deliciously snarky presentation by Dirk H. Breiding, assistant curator of the Department of Arms and Armor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Aug 2, 2014 - 16 comments

The 500 Year-old Butt Song From Hell

"[We] were looking at Hieronymus Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights and discovered, much to our amusement, music written upon the posterior of one of the many tortured denizens of the rightmost panel of the painting which is intended to represent Hell. I decided to transcribe it into modern notation, assuming the second line of the staff is C, as is common for chants of this era." via Dangerous Minds
posted by carsonb on Feb 13, 2014 - 98 comments

Pangs piercing every muscle, every labouring nerve

In The Natural History, Pliny the Elder mentioned "the Laocoön [...]* in the palace of the Emperor Titus, a work that may be looked upon as preferable to any other production of the art of painting or of statuary." Pliny ascribed the sculpture to three sculptors from Rhodes, Agesander, Athenodoros, and Polydoros; it is possible that they (or some of their descendants) were also responsible for a cluster of similarly-themed statues found in the 1950s at Sperlonga. In any event, the Laocoön was discovered in 1506 and purchased by Pope Julius II. [more inside]
posted by thomas j wise on Feb 7, 2014 - 22 comments

Top Myths of Renaissance Martial Arts

The diverse range of misconceptions and erroneous beliefs within historical fencing studies today is considerable. But there are perhaps some myths that are more common, and more pervasive, than others. This webpage presents an ongoing project that will continually try in an informal and condensed manner to help address some of these mistaken beliefs.
posted by cthuljew on Jul 25, 2013 - 39 comments

Paleopathology

CSI: Italian Renaissance. "Inside a lab in Pisa, forensics pathologist Gino Fornaciari and his team investigate 500-year-old cold cases." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jul 21, 2013 - 10 comments

Galileo and impolitic science

Moon Man: What Galileo saw. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Feb 7, 2013 - 28 comments

Leonardo Interactivo

The Royal Spanish Library has put online today an interactive version of Leonardo da Vinci's Madrid Codices I & II. There are transcriptions of the text (in Spanish and Italian, click "T" on the bottom menu), animations of many of the mechanical contraptions (click play button "ver animacion") and the "Indice" in the bottom menu organizes the folios by theme.
posted by Marauding Ennui on Oct 30, 2012 - 3 comments

Edged weapons are not pretend lightsabers.

Today's I09 has a guest column by John Clements titled "Swordfighting: Not What You Think It Is." And it isn't. [more inside]
posted by Bunny Ultramod on Jun 15, 2012 - 72 comments

Memento Salutis Auctor

Just imagine: a few musicologists know that there are 320 18th century sonatas lying somewhere in a Dutch archive. Half of them are by great masters such as Vivaldi and Telemann. The other half consists of works written by lesser-known but nonetheless interesting composers. Yet no one performs them or even shows any interest in them. Three hundred and twenty sonatas! Unthinkable, improbable. [more inside]
posted by mahershalal on May 22, 2012 - 23 comments

Homeless Paintings of the Italian Renaissance

Homeless Paintings of the Italian Renaissance.
"A particularly important nucleus of the [Harvard] Photograph Archive's collection consists of a group of images of Renaissance Italian paintings that Berenson famously classified as “homeless,” that is, works that were documented by a photograph but whose current location was unknown to him....Berenson published some of his photographs of artworks “without homes” with the express invitation and hope that their owners, public or private, might come forward and claim them as their own...It is in this spirit.. that we have developed the project to catalog, digitize and make available online the Photograph Archive’s images of "homeless" paintings by Italian artists between the thirteenth and the sixteenth centuries. By the project’s end--scheduled for the summer/fall of 2012--we will have published on the Internet records and images, often rare or unique, of around thirteen thousand pictures."
posted by vacapinta on Apr 15, 2012 - 4 comments

The Lucas Cranach Art Archive

"The Cranach Digital Archive is an interdisciplinary collaborative research resource, providing access to art historical, technical and conservation information on paintings by Lucas Cranach (c.1472 - 1553) and his workshop. The repository presently provides information on more than 400 paintings including c.5000 images and documents from 19 partner institutions."
posted by peacay on Jan 18, 2012 - 4 comments

Rethinking the Idea of 'Christian Europe'

Rethinking the Idea of 'Christian Europe'. Kenan Malik's essay is awarded 3 Quarks Daily's Top Quark for politics & social science by judge Stephen M. Walt: "Soldiers in today’s culture wars believe 'European civilization' rests on a set of unchanging principles that are perennially under siege—from godless communism, secular humanism, and most recently, radical Islam. For many of these zealots, what makes the 'West' unique are its Judeo-Christian roots. In this calm and elegantly-written reflection on the past two millenia, Malik shows that Christianity is only one of the many sources of 'Western' culture, and that many of the ideas we now think of as 'bedrock' values were in fact borrowed from other cultures. This essay is a potent antidote to those who believe a 'clash of civilizations' is inevitable—if not already underway—and the moral in Malik’s account could not be clearer. Openness to outside influences has been the true source of European prominence; erecting ramparts against others will impoverish and endanger us all."
posted by homunculus on Dec 19, 2011 - 87 comments

Papa Jesus is passed out drunk again...

Renaissance Babies in various stages of choking and passing out from noxious fumes: A Study. This is what happens when the Madonna eats way too much turkey, yall. Happy Thanksgiving! (Warning: Tumblr)
posted by Hal Mumkin on Nov 25, 2011 - 25 comments

The Pope, the Emperor and the Grand Duke

For centuries, Renaissance composer Alessandro Striggio's "Missa sopra Ecco sì beato giorno", an enormous setting of the Mass for 40 and 60 voices, was thought to be lost to the ages. A few years ago, UC Berkeley musicologist Davitt Moroney discovered that a copy of the work, attributed to a non-existent composer, was hiding right under our noses, in the Bibliothèque nationale de France. In an hour-long lecture titled "The Pope, the Emperor and the Grand Duke", Professor Moroney recounts the story of the Mass's disappearance and rediscovery, describes the historical significance of the music, and unravels the intriguing geopolitical landscape of 16th century Italy.
posted by archagon on Sep 28, 2011 - 7 comments

The Translations and Rareties of Elfinspell

Elfinspell is a garishly painted trunk stuffed with rare old books. You can browse the collection by timeline or by Muse.
posted by Iridic on May 16, 2011 - 6 comments

Following the Early Modern Engraver

The Brilliant Line explores the techniques of Renaissance and Baroque engravers. This interactive exhibit shows how layers of lines become art. (Flash.) [more inside]
posted by zamboni on Mar 3, 2011 - 8 comments

Caravaggio’s Criminal Record

Caravaggio's crimes exposed in Rome's police files: "Four hundred years after his death, Caravaggio is a 21st Century superstar among old master painters. His stark, dramatically lit, super-realistic paintings strike a modern chord - but his police record is more shocking than any modern bad boy rock star's. An exhibition of documents at Rome's State Archives throws vivid light on his tumultuous life here at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries." [Via] [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Feb 18, 2011 - 50 comments

Bibliotheca Corviniana

The library of King Matthias I of Hungary, the Bibliotheca Corviniana, was "the second greatest collection of books in Europe in the Renaissance period, after that of the Vatican." Destroyed following the 15th century Turkish invasion of Hungary (despite the efforts of Matthias' vassal Vlad III the Impaler), a few surviving codices have been digitized by the National Széchényi Library and the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. [more inside]
posted by Paragon on Jan 6, 2011 - 7 comments

Portrait of a Boy with a Long Beard

Flying eyeballs. Pissed-off bearded ladies. Mummy Jesus. The Wolfman. The lactation of St. Bernard. The Jesus & Mary UFO invasion.* And the Phineas Gage of 1550.

These and more at the gallery of unexpected motifs in Renaissance art. [old-school NSFW] [more inside]
posted by theodolite on Oct 25, 2010 - 31 comments

A Compendium of Obscure Things

Res Obscura is a blog by Ben Breen, a graduate student of early modern history, which styles itself "a compendium of obscure things." Indeed, even the asides are full of wonder, such as the one about Boy, the famous Royalist war poodle of the English Civil War, which is but a short addendum to a post about witches' familiars. Here are some of my favorite posts, Pirate Surgeon in Panama (and a related post about 18th Century Jamaica), vanished civilizations, asemic pseudo-Arabic and -Hebrew writing in Renaissance art, and a series of posts about the way the Chinese and Japanese understood the world outside Asia in the early modern period (Europeans as 'Other', Europeans as 'Other,' Redux and Early Chinese World Maps).
posted by Kattullus on Sep 30, 2010 - 16 comments

Mediaeval Arabic Manuscripts in Private Libraries in Mauritania

Ancient books inherited in private family libraries could change our knowledge of late mediaeval arab culture, but most are hidden in private libraries. Gripping article about the unknown treasures that may be lurking in Mauritanian family libraries, considering the little that has already been found, resistance to cataloguing and problematic future if the region continues to be destabilised. How the manuscripts are famous in the muslim world.More on the open libraries and archive efforts. Some years back on bbc i saw an explorer track down some ancient ethiopian christian manuscripts to an ethiopian monastery, only to be shown some burnt remains from a fire a few months back. What treasures must lurk in this continent, and with digital cameras, how easy to document them without damage or intruding on their owners! Being christians, there are pictures and some history.
posted by maiamaia on Jul 27, 2010 - 13 comments

Concealed Neuroanatomy in Michelangelo's Separation of Light From Darkness

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."
posted by homunculus on Jun 21, 2010 - 62 comments

Star forts from above

Star forts from above (Google Maps links): Alba Iulia, Arad Fortress, Almeida, Bourtrange, Coevorden, Estremoz, Goryōkaku, Naarden, Neuf Brisach, Nicosia, Palmanova, Retranchement, Terezín, Willemstad. More.
posted by nthdegx on Jun 8, 2010 - 47 comments

Online courses on Western history

Dr. E.L. Skip Knox teaches history at Boise State University. His online courses have dedicated websites with his lectures and plenty of supporting material. There are five, History of Western Civilization, covering the wide sweep of European history from ancient Athens to Copernicus, The Crusades, Europe in the Late Middle Ages, focusing on the the Renaissance, and Europe in the Age of Reformation. You can also go on a Virtual Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in medieval times. Dr. Knox has written extensively about online teaching including a lecture called The Rewards of Teaching On-Line where he explains his methods and shares his experiences.
posted by Kattullus on Nov 23, 2009 - 7 comments

Looking for Leonardo

Are figures in a Florentine altar panel attributed to Italian artist Andrea del Verrocchio actually by Leonardo da Vinci? "The Baptistery figures, if accepted as Leonardo's, would be the only extant sculptures made in the artist's lifetime..." Related ARTNews article, additional Smithsonian Magazine article, National Gallery of Art writeup related to the additional Smithsonian Magazine article, and the High Museum's upcoming Leonardo exhibit.
posted by cog_nate on Sep 28, 2009 - 21 comments

Rerepainting Bellini

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]
posted by thomas j wise on Aug 31, 2009 - 9 comments

The Motor(less) City

Detroit is one of the most visually interesting cities in the world, however it is also one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented. Detroit Book of Love is a group of photographs illustrating what contemporary Detroit artists have been doing in regards to developing an understanding and appreciation for this complex and diverse city; from street portraits of the survivors, to the landscapes of wild new growth, to the industrial leftovers. As a group they show Detroit as it is, not what it should be or what it once was. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Aug 7, 2009 - 27 comments

Caravaggio and Rembrandt, two great tastes that go well together

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam invites you to compare Caravaggio and Rembrandt. For an overview of Rembrandt's work here are Rembrandt van Rijn: Life and Work and A Web Catalogue of Rembrandt Paintings. For Caravaggio there's caravaggio.com which makes use of the Italian website Tutta l'opera del Caravaggio.
posted by Kattullus on Aug 6, 2009 - 13 comments

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Magnified

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.
posted by thomas j wise on Sep 13, 2008 - 4 comments

Niccolo Machiavelli

The Florentine. Niccolò Machiavelli, the man who taught rulers how to rule.
posted by homunculus on Sep 11, 2008 - 11 comments

The Chinese Are Coming (Again)

The book 1421 was a publishing sensation, selling over a million copies in several languages. Its author, Gavin Menzies, despite being roundly criticized and thoroughly debunked, is back with a new book. [more inside]
posted by CheeseDigestsAll on Aug 20, 2008 - 39 comments

Scans of medieval and renaissance manuscripts

Columbia University's Digital Scriptorium is a database of high quality scans from medieval and renaissance manuscripts. The highlights section alone is breathtaking, but you can search and browse through over 5000 manuscripts and almost 25000 individual images.
posted by Kattullus on May 3, 2008 - 15 comments

The Virtual Tourist in Renaissance Rome

The Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae A collection of over 900 zoomable print engravings, organized around the work of Antonio Lafreri and other Italian publishers, whose documentation of Roman ruins and statues helped fuel the Renaissance. The itineraries are a good place to start for detailed discussion, or just browse away. [via the wonderful Bouphonia]
posted by mediareport on Dec 10, 2007 - 8 comments

High quality re-creations of medieval armor

A few examples of high-quality re-creations of medieval armor. Much of this is created using historical techniques (youtube,) by men (slightly NSFW) who can only be called masters. But it ain't cheap. [more inside]
posted by agentofselection on Dec 7, 2007 - 11 comments

The Horror And The Folly

Torture didn't work in Renaissance Europe. And it doesn't work now. Real historic accounts of real people being tortured in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it composes a body of fact and experience that speaks directly to the present.
posted by JaySunSee on Nov 15, 2007 - 42 comments

Note: You read the guidelines, right? Oh yes.

Single Japanese Male. Rather than yammering in Meta about what "best of the web" means, let's have an object-lesson in astonishing obscure excellence. Introducing every last one of you to the Virtual Wilbye Consort.
posted by jfuller on Aug 4, 2007 - 19 comments

Mesterinde Karen Larsdatter

Mesterinde Karen Larsdatter.
posted by hama7 on Jul 28, 2007 - 22 comments

The leftovers make syupuurrrb sandwiches!

Cooking with Vincent Price! Delicious mushrooms & stuffed eggs! Roast pork sirloin with prunes, onions & red wine! Small boys in a spectacular curry! Cooking not your thing? Well, would you prefer learning about cricket? Or perhaps Florentine art? Voilà, my friends!
posted by miss lynnster on Apr 13, 2007 - 35 comments

A delightfully nerdy page for nerds

Dr. James B. Calvert, professor emeritus of engineering at the University of Denver, has an incredibly rich and deep personal webpage, which includes such gems as Latin for mountain men, the correct corn-hog ratio, travel by brachistochrone, anomalous sound propagation and the guns of Barisal, and about a billion other awesomely nerdy topics.
posted by sergeant sandwich on Jan 28, 2007 - 16 comments

Renaissance bling

The King's Kunstkammer - en vogue in Renaissance Europe, kunstkammers were status symbols of kings, vast collections of art, curiosities, and scientific and natural objects. This is a partial reconstruction of the Royal Danish Kunstkammer, established by King Frederik III in the mid-1600s. Exploring the collection's 250 objects offers insight into princely preoccupations of the era.
posted by madamjujujive on Nov 22, 2006 - 13 comments

Fakes in the Met?!

Madonna and Child by Duccio di Buoninsegna (ca 1300) “is widely considered a key forerunner of the Italian Renaissance style and a landmark in Western European painting”. The painting “resides in a Plexiglas case in the middle of a room of medieval Italian paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art” and was purchased in 2004 for about $50million, the most expensive acquisition in the Met’s history. However James Beck, Columbia professor, founder of ArtWatch “established for the dignity of the art” (previously mentioned in this forum), is emphatic: “It’s a poor painting and it is a fake.” In a recent interview to Paul Hond in the Columbia Magazine Fall 2006 issue he admitted that such a bold and counter-mainstream proposition is “…calling attention to the mistakes of our favorite institutions of great power would not have been readily available if I didn’t have tenure.”
posted by carmina on Oct 17, 2006 - 18 comments

The real Da Vinci Code?

I know who brought Leonardo's greatest drawings to Britain. I may not be a Harvard professor of religious symbology or know much about the bloodline of the Magdalene, but I do enjoy a mystery and so I set out to solve this one. And I succeeded. Final proof is elusive, always, but in this case the circumstantial evidence is so overwhelming, I think I've got my man."
posted by Len on Aug 30, 2006 - 6 comments

Medieval & Renaissance Manuscript Images

Medieval & Renaissance Manuscript Images: Corsair is a well documented online image repository of the Morgan Pierpont Library. There are 58 manuscripts with over 7,000 images ranging from the 9th to the 16th century. Sample image page. Sample search results. Research information.
posted by peacay on Sep 3, 2005 - 8 comments

Renaissance Festivals Books: British Library

Renaissance Festival Books. The British Library has digitized 253 books about European festivals and ceremonies that occurred between 1475 and 1700. "From marriages, coronations and births to official visits and saints’ days, celebrations staged by the royal courts of Europe were occasions to be remembered. Festival books could be compared to souvenir programmes, or magazine accounts, documenting through eye-witness accounts and philosophical reflections the key events in the lives of princely and elite folk – the celebrities of the day." The collection is aimed at both lay and scholarly types. via
posted by peacay on Aug 16, 2005 - 12 comments

In Which It Is Shown That All Human Things Are But A Dream

The Renaissance saw the publication of many great romantic epics: Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso in 1516; Torquato Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered in 1581; and Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene in 1590 and 1596. But perhaps the most ambitious and mysterious of them all was the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili published in 1499 by Aldus Manutius (previously discussed here). The Poliphili has usually been attributed to an Italian monk named Francesco Colonna, although recently some have claimed that it was the work of architect and humanist Leon Battista Alberti, even though he died in 1472. The Poliphili has long fascinated scholars because of its amazing typography, the cinematic style of its woodcuts, and the strange messages seemingly hidden in this multi-lingual text. Written in Italian, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Chaldean, and even some hieroglyphs, it has only recently been translated into English. This strange text has inspired a great deal of research and even a New York Times best-selling murder mystery.
posted by papakwanz on Feb 4, 2005 - 18 comments

Gode Cookery

Gode Cookery: Medieval & Renaissance food & cookery, and more.
posted by hama7 on May 7, 2004 - 8 comments

Rauschpfeife!

Musica Antiqua: A Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Instruments. Complete with both .wav and .mp3 samples.
posted by Ufez Jones on Mar 12, 2004 - 9 comments

Investigating the Renaissance

Investigating the Renaissance. 'This interactive program demonstrates the ways in which computer technology can be harnessed to add to our knowledge about Renaissance paintings and how they were made.' Analysis of paintings using x-ray, infrared and ultraviolet technology.
posted by plep on Dec 23, 2003 - 3 comments

Renasence Editions

The Book of the Courtier - Baldessar Castiglione (Sir Thomas Hoby tr.), An Essay on the Regulation of the Press - Daniel Defoe, The Schoole of Abuse - Stephen Gosson, Merrie Conceited Jests - George Peel and The Praise of Hemp-Seed - John Taylor, a sample selection submitted for your approval from Renasence Editions, An Online Repository of Works Printed in English Between the Years 1477 and 1799.
posted by y2karl on Nov 26, 2003 - 7 comments

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