The Stallion, Gillibrand, 1817
"Horses contributed significantly to Britain’s rich history and culture. They played an important role in hunting and the sport of organized horse racing. Either arena could have been where this gray stallion frolicked. Charles Towne obtained great celebrity with his portraits of working animals. Painted with diligent and affectionate care, this portrait suggests the animal’s importance to its owner. The stallion’s name, Gillibrand, could connect it to a Mr. Gillibrand who was a registered breeder of racehorses in Cheshire, near Liverpool."
“The owl,” he was saying, “is one of the most curious creatures. A bird that stays awake when the rest of the world sleeps. They can see in the dark. I find that so interesting, to be mired in reality when the rest of the world is dreaming. What does he see and what does he know that the rest of the world is missing?” ― M.J. Rose, Seduction
Friday the 13th – Seek an owl if you want a baby girl
"Although born in Germany, Schreyer spent much of his career in Paris. Like Fromentin, whose A Ravine: Souvenir of Algeria is exhibited nearby, he was one of many artists attracted to the exoticism of Arab subjects. His visit to Algeria in 1861 probably inspired this image of an Arab chieftain, mounted on a dark horse and surrounded by his companions. Schreyer was particularly well-known as a painter of horses, and this work highlights his mastery of equine anatomy. He was also an admirer of Delacroix's rich color, and Schreyer's own sparkling brushwork is evident in his rendering of costume as well as the harnesses and tassels of the horses."
Circular Plaque, ca. 1870
"This plaque combines designs from Islamic metalwork with the vivid coloring of Islamic ceramics. The artist, Théodore Deck, was an innovator in French ceramics during the mid-1800s (his work can also be seen in Gallery P32). Deck was fascinated with researching and reproducing lost ceramic glaze recipes, especially those found on ceramics made from the 1400s through the 1600s in Isnik (a Turkish town). The peacock blue he reinvented came to be known as Deck blue."
The Garden of Les Mathurins at Pontoise, 1876
The woman in the painting is believed to be Maria Deraismes a prominent author and political figure in 1860s France who fought for women’s rights and who was a friend of Pissarro.
"This painting is an unusual subject for Pissarro, who typically preferred more rustic scenes. Here we see a comfortable, middle-class environment, whose peace and prosperity are enjoyed by the well-dressed woman in white. To her right is a glass reflecting ball, and the arrangement of the garden demonstrates the 19th-century fashion for flowers with bright, strong colors. At the time this picture was painted, Pissarro was attempting to give more structure to his loose, Impressionist style. He does so through the solid contrasts of complementary colors-red and green, blue and orange-and dense brushwork applied with small strokes." -- Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The Record Player (1939)
"The woman in this painting is lost in her thoughts. One strap of her undergarment has slipped from her shoulder. Red light bathes the left side of her face, shoulder, and arm. The background is dark and cavernous. No music sounds.
What could account for this ominous tone? In 1937, Adolf Hitler labeled Karl Hofer and other modern artists "degenerate." Hofer’s paintings were confiscated. He was removed from his teaching post at the Berlin University of the Arts and was forbidden to paint. In 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland. World War II began. Still, Hofer painted."
Shiva Nataraja, The Lord of Dance
South India, Tamil Nadu
Chola Dynasty (850–1278 c.e.), early 13th century
The dancing lord Shiva represents the constant process of creation, preservation and destruction of the tangible universe. We see him here in a dynamic pose with his leg raised, beginning his dance. Walk around the sculpture and notice how balanced and well-sculpted it is from all sides—a superb example of Chola workmanship.
Shiva stands upon a dwarf, intended to represent ignorance, which must be eliminated in order for a believer to be released from the eternal cycle of birth and death. In his upper hands he carries a drum that beats the rhythm of his dance, and fire, a symbol of transience and destruction.
The Bathers (1928)
John Steuart Curry
“John Steuart Curry’s The Bathers depicts nude farmers and farm boys cavorting in and around a cattle tank after another day of hard work. As the common meeting place for different ages of men, the tank serves as a visual metaphor for life itself, into which the two pre-pubescent boys have only begun to dive and through which the older, wiser farmer looking on at left has already passed. While youth and maturity occupy the margins of manly experience, the young men romping at right are immersed in it fully, a suggestion that they enjoy, however unconsciously, the prime of their lives. Curry elevated his mundane subject matter by adopting certain aspects of Italian Renaissance art, including the balanced composition and carefully modeled figures.
The Bathers is one of a group of paintings in which Curry examined farm life in his native Kansas. His interest in rural subjects was shared by Thomas Hart Benton from Missouri and Grant Wood from Iowa, with whom he became identified in the 1930s as leaders of the regionalist movement, part of a larger revolt against the perceived inordinate influence of European modern art on American culture.”