Category: art history

You have almost certainly seen the artwork of Keith Haring. But you might not have realized it was made by him. Here’s a great little article to introduce you to this pop style artist who was everywhere in the 1980s.

A Fatimid Caliphate-era ewer carved from a single piece of rock crystal. The Treasure of Caliph Mostansir-Billah at Cairo, which was destroyed in 1062, was said to have contained 1,800 rock crystal vessels. But the ewer you see here is one of only seven (creatively called the Magnificent Seven) known to have survived til today.

Circa 1000 – 1050 CE.

This was made in 1627. By hand!

Bernini was contracted to create a bust of Maria Barberini Duglioli, niece of Pope Urban VIII, and subcontracted the work to Giuliano Finelli. Finelli chose to focus on the lady’s accessories: the intricate lace collar, the flower in her curly hair, her ropes of pearls. When released, the bust was widely hailed as a tour de force. Finelli raised the standard for female portraits and an inspiration for future busts.

Bronze statue of Guan Yu, a general serving under the warlord Liu Bei during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. After he died in 220 CE his deeds entered popular folklore. Guan Yu was deified as early as the Sui Dynasty (581–618 CE) and also became considered a bodhisattva. Today he is god of war, loyalty, and righteousness. This bronze statue dates to the Ming Dynasty, 1400s – 1500s CE.

This is a cooking vessel from Japan dating back to 2,500 BCE! Archaeologists call this kind of vessel “fire-flame,” ka’en in Japanese, because their tops resemble flames. No one knows why the design was created, or what it actually represents.

Pots like this were used by making holes in the ground, starting fires in the holes, then placing the pots onto the fires in the holes. As a result, bottoms often deteriorated and this particular vessel’s bottom is a replacement.

What makes this box particularly ironic is that at the time, no one knew tobacco’s connection with cancer and ill-health. It was just an interesting box that happened to be for holding tobacco!

The small hole at the bottom is for bees to come and go!

Iranian, 1890s. The Freer-Sackler Gallery has a collection of interesting Iranian beehive covers, for those who want to see more!

This pair of topaz cockatoos perches on an ivory stand, connected by gold chains. It was made by the House of Faberge in the early 1900s.
Carl Fabergé, son of the founder of the jewelry empire, was particularly fond of birds and kept a pet cockatoo.

Miniature folio from Bundi, Rajasthan, India, around 1680. It illustrates a scene from the Ragamalas, a series of musical modes that combined poetry, classical music, and art.