Battle of the Amazons (1937)
Gelatin silver print
This rare print by Raoul Ubac is part of a series that features Penthesilea, the mythic Amazonian queen. To represent the queen and her consort, Ubac took several photographs of his wife, Agathe, and a friend. He also made close-up images of Agathe’s hair, as well as sticks and other props. He then combined these components into one elaborate image. The final grouping recalls the sculptural qualities of Greek carving. A surrealist, Ubac sought to tap into subconscious symbols relating to fantasy and sexual desire.
The Approaching Storm (1872)
Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña
Oil on wood panel
"As a storm begins to darken the sky, Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña’s variegated, unrefined brushstrokes emphasize the rapidly changing light and atmosphere beyond a group of native oak trees. The locale, the Forest of Fontainebleau, was controversial because of its extensive plantings of Russian pine trees. The Barbizon artists strongly opposed this, viewing it as the destruction of the ancient Gallic character of the land."
The Triumph of Bacchus
Oil on canvas
"Bacchus, the god of wine, leads this entourage of mythological characters in a triumphal return from victories in India. His chariot is drawn by centaurs, mythical creatures who are half-human and half-horse. Accompanying him are Pan with his pipes and Hercules, who has stolen a tripod from Apollo, the sun god, seen driving his chariot across the sky. A river god, symbolizing the river Indus and the Indian subcontinent, lounges in the lower right foreground. Poussin spent most of his career in Rome and was the prime inspiration for the classical revival in French art. This painting was one of a series of three commissioned by the famous French statesman Cardinal Richelieu."
View of Lake Garda
Oil on canvas
"Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was one of the leading French landscape painters of the 1800s. During repeated trips to Italy between the 1820s and 1840s, he dedicated himself to painting and sketching from nature. Later in life, when he preferred to work in his Parisian studio, Corot relied on these sketches for inspiration or painted landscapes from memory. In this painting, a boatman and a contadina (Italian peasant woman) lounge on the banks of Lake Garda, a site that Corot had visited three decades earlier."
The Countess de Castiglione (ca.1856–57)
Salt print with pigment
This hand-colored photograph features Virginia Oldioni, the Countess de Castiglione. Between 1856 and 1895, the Countess worked with photographer Pierre-Louis Pierson to create more than 400 self-portraits. Fascinated by photography’s capacity to shape identity, the Countess played a direct role in the creation of each work. She chose outfits, determined poses and directed Pierson on how to enlarge some of her images.
Untitled (Still Life)
1921 Oil on canvas
"Pink rosebuds and one full blossom rise from a deep blue vase in this vibrant still-life painting. Suzanne Valadon was the first woman painter to be admitted to the prestigious Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. A child of poverty, she began working at the age of 11, selling vegetables at markets and, later, as a circus acrobat and artist model. Among her friends were fellow artists Edgar Degas, André Derain, and Pablo Picasso. She was the mother of artist Maurice Utrillo."
The First Lesson of Fraternal Friendship
French (1773 or 1775)
Oil on canvas
'In a rustic interior are six figures, representing a family of the upper classes (father at left, mother third from right, older son in black bonnet, white shirt and pants, blue sash) paying a visit to their youngest son, in the care of a wet nurse. The two brothers kiss; at right, a young male peasant and an old woman survey the scene. At right is a covered bed, in right foreground is still life of brass pot, ceramic jar, onions, and cabbage.
In this painting, an aristocratic couple has taken their older son to a wet nurse’s cottage to visit his baby brother. The practice of wet nursing, in which families sent their babies away to be breast-fed for the first few years of their lives, was common throughout most of the 18th century. By the time Etienne Aubry painted this scene, wet nursing was coming under attack by Enlightenment thinkers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau for being unnatural and detrimental to a child’s development.'