Thomas Cole Arcadia painting

When Landscape Painting Was Protest Art

The landscape painter Thomas Cole celebrated the American landscape, but also expressed doubts about the limits of civilization.
Walking Natan

The Art of Walking

Walking as an art has a deep history. By guiding participants, or their own bodies, on walks, artists encourage us to see the extraordinary in the mundane.
Sunbonnet Babies

The Merchandising Whiz Behind the Sunbonnet Babies

In the late 1890s, Bertha Corbett set up her own illustration studio in Minneapolis. Her simple drawing of children in sunbonnets became her ticket to success.
Iskander Miscellany

The Ultimate Bespoke Manuscript

In The Miscellany of Iskandar Sultan, sections of text stack on top of one another, interlaced like fretwork. Bursts of flowers and tangles of vines fill the empty spaces.
Cricket cage

Keeping Crickets for Luck, Song, and Bloodsport

Design can facilitate the worst of human instincts, including forcing animals into servitude and violence. Cricket cages tell stories about how people have treated the insects throughout time.
Victorian gloves

What Gloves Meant to the Victorians

According to one historian, the year 1900 was “the zenith of glove-wearing,” when any self-respecting Victorian (British or American) wouldn’t be caught dead without covered hands.
Sari drape

Why Saris are Indian Material Culture

Between 1996 and 2003, a folklorist studied the connection between handlooms (technology), sari makers (producers), and sari wearers (consumers) in the ancient city of Banaras.
Department of Interior Artwork. "An Incident in Contemporary American Life," by Mitchell Jamieson. Date: 1943 Dimensions: 148" x 82" Oil Painting.

The First Civil Rights Monument

The nation's first civil rights monument is a mural portraying the interracial audience at Marion Anderson's famed Freedom Concert of 1939 on the Washington Mall.
Turf Cutters 1869 by Thomas Wade 1828-1891

Peat’s Place in Art

Since the nineteenth century, peat (or turf) has brought social consciousness to art. In the 1800s, Pre-Raphaelite paintings focused on the fact that the poor harvested it.
Michalangelo Last Judgement

How Did Michelangelo Get So Good?

Michelangelo, perhaps the greatest artist the world has produced, wasn't a child prodigy like Mozart. He learned on the job. So maybe there's still hope for the rest of us.