Author: Julia Siemon

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Images features a portrait of Sir Anthony van Dyck. Only his head is worked up, looking over a lightly outlined shoulder. The rest of the page is blank.
Meet Sir Anthony
Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), knighted by King Charles I of England, was a Flemish painter renowned for his portraits of members of the British Court. Trained in Antwerp by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Van Dyck, like his teacher, experimented with making prints.[1] In the late 1520s or early 1530s, Van Dyck began an extensive...
A dark brown paper stencil with a cut-away pattern of triangles joined in lines of two or three.
Martial Iris
In the traditional Japanese craft of katagami, paper stencils are carved by master artisans for use in decorating textiles. Documented since at least the sixteenth century, the technique developed out of methods originally devised for embellishing leather armor. Some common katagami motifs record this history: the stylized iris pattern that appears on this stencil symbolizes bravery....
Image features drawing showing three grotesque profiles of men in long wigs, outlined with scratching, exploratory lines imitating roughly drawn grotesques by William Hogarth. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Jane Ireland: Faithful Copies and a Famous Hoax in 18th-century London
In celebration of Women’s History Month, March Object of the Day posts highlight women designers in the collection. Jane Ireland and her sister Anna Maria were artists and print-makers in 18th-century London. Like many early women artists in Europe—to whom formal training was rarely available—the Ireland sisters learned their craft from their father. Samuel Ireland...
Images features the Virgin Mary, seated in a stable, holding the infant Jesus, who emits a radiant light. The pair are surrounded by a group of adoring angels and shepherds, while above, the rafters open to a heavenly scene of clouds and putti. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this image.
Brighter Than The Sun
In the late fourteenth century, an elderly nun named Bridget experienced a mystical vision.  Born in Sweden in 1303, Bridget (now St. Bridget) was nearly seventy when she made a pilgrimage to Bethlehem, and witnessed a holy sight.  In her account of what transpired, St. Bridget describes a vision of the birth of Jesus in...
Image features design drawing showing large fan-shaped flowers in pink, purple, and orange on a turquoise ground. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Fans and Flowering Tendrils
Author: Rachel Pool Purpurnelke (Purple Pink) is a textile design made from cut paper and gouache. It features entangled grapevines set amongst boldly-colored flowers that resemble Japanese fans, combined in a striking pattern indicative of non-Western influence. The designer Felice Rix-Ueno (Austrian, 1893–1967) created the blossoming flowers and their straight stems from cut paper; the...
A Radical ‘X’
Author: Jerome Harris Spike Lee’s 1992 classic film, Malcolm X, depicts the life and impact of the radical African-American activist. The poster for the movie was designed by Art Sims, who had previously created the artwork for Mo’ Better Blues (1990) and Jungle Fever (1991), two other Spike Lee joints. Past works by Sims display...
Image features a drawing in pen and brown ink, bistre wash, and charcoal on laid paper. Five men are seated astride crocodiles. Two of the crocodiles are in the Nile and three of them are at the bank on the left. Two more heads of crocodiles emerge from the water. One spectator stands at left under a tree. More people are shown on the other bank. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Crocodile Hunt
How to catch a crocodile? In this drawing, the Flemish artist Jan van der Straet, called Stradanus (1523 —1605) shows us one particularly bold method. Hunters sit astride their prey, forcing long sticks between the crocodiles’ snapping jaws; companions armed with clubs wait nearby, ready to bludgeon the overpowered reptiles. The image isn’t based on...
Image features drawing showing an ornamental frame surrounding a central blank oval. In the foreground, a putto holds a book and globe, and nearby lie an anchor, axe, baton and Sir Walter Raleigh's head. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Sharp Medicine
In the mid-eighteenth century, the British historian Thomas Birch (1705 – 1766) published a series of short biographies of famous figures from his nation’s past. Accompanying each of the 108 biographies was an engraved portrait of the subject, whose likeness was presented within an elaborate decorative setting.[1] These ornamental frames were designed by Hubert-François Bourguignon...
Pen and brown ink drawing of a woman seated on an octagonal platform, painting at an easel. She is encircled by eight columns supporting a cupola above.
Elisabetta Sirani, “Gem of Italy”
On November 14, 1665, the Basilica of San Domenico in Bologna was crowded with mourners. They were gathered to remember a young female artist, Elisabetta Sirani (1638 – 1665), who had died suddenly the previous August.[1] Although only 27 at the time of her death, Elisabetta was already an acclaimed painter, draftsman, and printmaker—a contemporary...