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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...
Image features the cover of book, The Gorey Alphabet. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
The Gorey Alphabet
In the spirit of Halloween, a fun and spooky object in our library collection is a copy of The Gorey Alphabet  by Edward Gorey.  Edward Gorey (1925-2000), American writer and artist, child prodigy and high achiever has nestled his way into the hearts of those fond of dark themes, Victorian and Edwardian settings, and pen-and-ink drawings. The...
Cooper Hewitt Short Stories: Carroll Beckwith and the Hewitt Sisters
In our most recent Short Story, we looked at the friendship between the Hewitt and Carnegie families, and how those relationships still shape Cooper Hewitt today. This month, a research mystery catches our eye. Recently, curatorial researcher Josephine Rodgers brought our attention to a lovely portrait of a woman given to the museum in 1931...
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...
Image features a drawing of a nautilus-shaped house situated in a fantastic landscape of rocky cliffs. Please scroll down to to read the blog post about this object.
A Dream Come True
Emilio Terry once described his creative work as “a dream come true,” an attitude reflected in his 1933 pen and ink sketch, Fantasy.[1] Although perhaps less familiar to modern audiences, Terry was one of the best-known designers of his time. Born to a wealthy family in Havana, Cuba, he later moved to France, where he lived and worked...
Image features a cartoon of Thomas Nast and George Curtis in the 'Harper's Weekly' editor's office. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Lines of Political Rhetoric
Today discussions concerning the divisive power of political rhetoric are being addressed throughout the national media. This drawing captures a pivotal moment in nineteenth-century American history that juxtaposes a similar debate. Thomas Nast (1840-1902) joined the staff of Harper’s Weekly in 1862 and his drawings of the Civil War established his reputation. George William Curtis...
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...