Renaissance

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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 nude man, seated, seen from behind, rendered in green and black ink. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Renaissance Chiaroscuro Woodcut
This print, with its striking green hue, is the result of an innovative collaboration between two Italian Renaissance artists. Working together in Bologna in the late 1520s, the painter Francesco Mazzola (called Parmigianino, 1503-1540) and the printmaker Antonio da Trento (1508-1550) were early adopters of a new technique that allowed for the production of multicolored...
Cooper Hewitt Short Stories: A Formidable Inheritance from a Gilded Age
In last month’s Short Story, we feasted on dazzling jewelry designs from Cooper Hewitt’s collection. This month, Sarah Coffin, curator and head of product design and decorative arts, introduces us to Mr. and Mrs. John Innes Kane, donors of some of Cooper Hewitt’s most important decorative art pieces. Margery Masinter, Trustee, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design...
Fragile Beasts and Where to Find Them
Have you ever wondered where you could find a spotted, two-legged creature with the body of a lizard, the ears of a goat, the wings of a bird and the claws of a chicken?  How about a monster with the head of a dolphin, ears of acanthus leaves, the body of a snake, and a tail...
Drawing of engaged rustic columns with Tuscan capitals projecting from an archway. Above, an undecorated entablature and triangular pediment with three vertical projections.
Rustic Tuscan
Rusticated masonry was first used in the classical world. It is characterized by stones cut with a deliberately rough surface, and wide sunken joints between blocks. The Ancient Romans typically employed coarse stone in public structures such as city walls and aqueducts. However, during the reign of Emperor Claudius (41 – 54 C.E.), rusticated stonework...
Lovely Rituals
In celebration of Women’s History Month, Cooper Hewitt is dedicating select Object of the Day entries to works that celebrate women in our collection. We believe that this Italian Amorino Plate (also known as a coppa) dates from ca. 1600. The cupid (or putto) painted in the center of the plate, which is a shallow bowl,...
Groundwork for a ceiling
Have we fallen down? What is going on here? The perspective in this late 17th-century Italian drawing is so strange because it is meant to be viewed from below. This drawing was done in preparation for a painted ceiling, a frequent feature of the sumptuous palaces and grand churches built in Italy in the 16th-19th...
Two cones; left composed of two spirals; right composed of woven strips and squares.
A Renaissance Twist of Ancient Mathematics
Translated as “Perspective of regular bodies,” Jamnitzer’s book exemplifies the overwhelming resurgence and appreciation of classical texts during the Renaissance. Not only does the artist present his drawings through a Latin introduction, but the regular bodies mentioned in the title are based on the five Platonic solids of Euclidean geometry: the tetrahedron, hexahedron, octahedron, icosahedron...