Photograph: Art restorer, Claire Wilkins, at work restoring a self-portrait of the Spanish artist, Velasquez, after flooding at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, 1966

Source: Terry Fincher/Getty

Restoration Recipes

Need to clean your sixteenth-century distemper painting? Try a piece of bread (at your own risk).
Leonard de Koningh, Self-portrait as a painter, 1864-73

Did Photography Really Kill Portrait Painting?

While some viewed photography as a competitor for their customers, Dutch portrait painters reaped the benefits of the emerging medium.
Detail from Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez

Who Was the Little Girl in Las Meninas?

A Spanish princess who became a German queen, Margarita Teresa lived a life structured by Catholicism and cut short by consanguinity.
Soap Bubbles by Jean Simeon Chardin, ca.1733

The Soap Bubble Trope

Throughout the history of philosophy, literature, art, and science, people have been fascinated with the shimmering surfaces of soap bubbles.
claude glass

The Claude Glass Revolutionized the Way People Saw Landscapes

Imagine tourists flocking to a famous beauty spot, only to turn around and fix their eyes on its reflection in a tiny dark mirror.
Patrocle by Jacques-Louis David

Who Were the Male Models in French History Paintings?

Before the French Revolution, professional models were salaried professionals. That would all change in the nineteenth century.
Ring with a photograph of an eye inside its setting

18th-Century Lovers Exchanged Portraits of Their Eyes

The miniature paintings celebrated and commemorated love at a time when public expressions of affection were uncouth.
Clitocybe illudens

P.S., Mushrooms Are Extremely Beautiful

American mycologist Violetta White Delafield painted over 600 stunning watercolors of mushrooms as part of her fieldwork. Here they are in all their glory.
Inside the Rothko Chapel

How the Rothko Chapel Creates Spiritual Space

Fourteen colossal black paintings by the modern artist Mark Rothko are installed in an octagonal room in Texas. Visitors say the chapel brings them peace.
Saint George Defeating the Dragon by Johann König, c. 1630

How Saint George’s Dragon Got Its Wings

As time went on, the dragons in Russian iconography slowly became more Western in style—just like Russia itself.