Significant Works of Historical Art and Craftsmanship | History Forum

Significant Works of Historical Art and Craftsmanship

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
31,535
SoCal
The Grand Palace is beautiful when it's empty like in the photos. I went twice & both times it was more crowded than any other tourist attraction I have ever visited anywhere in the world.
I've never been to Thailand but I previously heard that it was one of the more pleasant Third World countries to visit. I did have Thai food on numerous occasions here in the US, though--and it was great!
 
Feb 2012
394
New York City
I've never been to Thailand but I previously heard that it was one of the more pleasant Third World countries to visit. I did have Thai food on numerous occasions here in the US, though--and it was great!
I was there recently but had a pretty miserable time because of problems with my flights both arriving & departing as well as a dose of food poisoning. Nice country though & I'll probably try again some day.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
31,535
SoCal
I was there recently but had a pretty miserable time because of problems with my flights both arriving & departing as well as a dose of food poisoning. Nice country though & I'll probably try again some day.
Maybe this article could give you some good advice in the event that you'll ever visit Thailand once again :):

 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
31,535
SoCal
That is often the way with pin-up... it often isn't classified as "art", but you could make the argument that ancient pieces have no artist to attribute them to... or that the erotic themes in Rococo and other periods are little more than pin-up's... executed with a brush. You could take a Rococo piece and contrast with the pin-up image to derive meaning from the similarities / differences... what can you teach someone about the pieces you share so that they leave with their understanding enriched?

In the end it comes down to what you believe art is... And beyond that... what is art in context of a history forum?

Is it simply something pretty/grand/titillating to look at, a synapse to ricochet off some neurons? Or does it have a much broader cultural and historical significance... either in that it illustrates history so that we can literally *see* it with our own eyes... and show the nuanced markers of major sociological shifts in thought, ideals, history? Can it offer deep personal meaning and insight into your own self... challenge you, rebuke you and inspire you on an almost subconscious level?

I mean, heavens... imagine if there were no images of your favorite historical person. You could never look upon his/her face and 'know' that individual. Or even better, imagine there were no images of the dull, everyday life of the past and only grandiose works of art for God or King... If there is no understanding of the revolutions within an individual and his culture as a whole that brought us... the boring still life... the farmer in his field... (all expertly painted by someone who had the physical and emotional means to communicate the worth of that moment in time) then what good are those images. They are just pretty... and nothing more (which is very much the way pin-up art is viewed).
That makes sense, I guess. Art certainly does sometimes help portray a larger picture--such as the personality of the person being painted or the atmosphere at a particular historical moment or historical event or the mood of the moment at a particular point in time.

In the end, maybe this thread has no value beyond racking up a higher post count. I find that sad because it could be much more than that. This subforum is a bit starved... but in the end Historum doesn't really seem to be the place for diverse art or culture topics... its strong points relate more to military history... which has great merit - and I also personally enjoy. I just no longer entertain delusions of having deep, edifying conversations about culture or art. I come back and 'poke it with a stick' the same way you'd poke something that appears dead, to see if you can determine whether it's got any life in it yet. LOL.

The OP goal was to think about why what the images posted have meaning (historical, person)... or greater cultural significance or interest. What can you teach people about the images you share?

*rant over*
Well, I did post an old several-page essay of mine that analyzes a specific work of art from 1889 earlier today. Did you manage to take a look at this essay of mine, and if so, what are your thoughts on it?

I'm going to be honest with you and up-front say that I am probably just not that good at doing art analysis. I can do a better historical analysis of some other topics--I'm just not that good at analyzing art--or at analyzing things such as poetry, for that matter. For instance, I'll try to briefly analyze some works of art right here right now:

Here is Georges Seurat's Les Poseuses (1886-1888):



These women's nakedness reflects female innocence and vulnerability--being painted at the point when they are the most exposed and intimate and also objectifies them in a way by placing such a large emphasis on their bodies. Seurat's 1886 painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is visible in the background, suggesting that these ladies are undressing in Seurat's art studio. The various items of clothing portray these women as ladies of fashion--indicating that even back then there was an elegant aspect to some clothing--something to awe and marvel at. The fact that at least two of these women have slight bellies appears to indicate that body-shaming wasn't as widespread back then as it currently is--or at least not "fat-shaming" (not that any of these ladies are fat by any means, of course). The yellow hat, purple coat, and red umbrella in the bottom center-right of this painting appear to indicate sophistication--with these women attempting to portray themselves as refined, sophisticated, classy, and dignified even while they are undressing. In addition to all of this,though, I'm not really sure what else I can say about this artwork.

I also like Franz Marc's two horse paintings from 1911:





Their vivid and vibrant colors indicate that this might be a type of dream world, a world where one can allow one's thoughts to roam and float freely and vividly. These horse paintings are certainly rather joyful but also cause one to think about the character and characteristics of these dream worlds. Perhaps these paintings represent the unsullied force of nature, a place where horses and even humans can roam freely away from urban, industrial, and modern civilization--a world that is more primitive but also in a sense more beautiful than the modern world is. The blue colors on these horses might indicate that these horses are meant to activate our imaginations and to allow us to think about just how beautiful an imaginary, natural world can be--a world of simple things and simple delights full of vibrancy and optimism.

I also like Paolo Uccello's The Hunt in the Forest (probably from the 1470s) for its use of perspective as well as for the fact that it shows the joyful, vibrant, lively, and exciting atmosphere of the hunt for European nobility and the European upper-class in the late 15th century; in this regard, one can say that not that much has actually changed in regards to hunting over the last several centuries other than perhaps the fact that it became accessible to a much larger segment of society:



@Niobe, am I moving this thread back in the right direction? :)
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
31,535
SoCal
Wroclaw's Old Town Hall appears to be rather pretty:



It looks a bit like a gingerbread house and is full of different and vibrant colors. I also like the stylized sun clock in the center of this building. It's got a sun at its center as well as an Earth and the Moon on its sides--with the Earth and Moon apparently moving based on the time of day. Or maybe it's only the hand of the clock that moves and not the Earth and the Moon. I'm not sure, TBH. It also looks like there's another pretty clock further up on the spire of this building. :)
 

Offspring

Ad Honoris
Mar 2013
15,680
România
The Ascension" Church in Târgovişte, Romania (it's the Old Metropolitan Cathedral of Wallachia):



The interior is usually dimly lit and it makes the interior look nice:




For some reason, it doesn't work when I try to post this as a picture: https://pxhere.com/en/photo/420577

It also has pictures of wall paintings from various other Romanian churches. This is from the Snagov Monastery: https://pxhere.com/en/photo/589205

I like the Easter egg:



It's on a tiny island:



It's alleged that Vlad the Impaler is buried there. He almost certainly isn't. This presents things well: Is Vlad Tepes actually buried in Snagov? - Quora
 
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Feb 2019
1,993
Pennsylvania, US
That makes sense, I guess. Art certainly does sometimes help portray a larger picture--such as the personality of the person being painted or the atmosphere at a particular historical moment or historical event or the mood of the moment at a particular point in time.



Well, I did post an old several-page essay of mine that analyzes a specific work of art from 1889 earlier today. Did you manage to take a look at this essay of mine, and if so, what are your thoughts on it?

I'm going to be honest with you and up-front say that I am probably just not that good at doing art analysis. I can do a better historical analysis of some other topics--I'm just not that good at analyzing art--or at analyzing things such as poetry, for that matter. For instance, I'll try to briefly analyze some works of art right here right now:

Here is Georges Seurat's Les Poseuses (1886-1888):



These women's nakedness reflects female innocence and vulnerability--being painted at the point when they are the most exposed and intimate and also objectifies them in a way by placing such a large emphasis on their bodies. Seurat's 1886 painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is visible in the background, suggesting that these ladies are undressing in Seurat's art studio. The various items of clothing portray these women as ladies of fashion--indicating that even back then there was an elegant aspect to some clothing--something to awe and marvel at. The fact that at least two of these women have slight bellies appears to indicate that body-shaming wasn't as widespread back then as it currently is--or at least not "fat-shaming" (not that any of these ladies are fat by any means, of course). The yellow hat, purple coat, and red umbrella in the bottom center-right of this painting appear to indicate sophistication--with these women attempting to portray themselves as refined, sophisticated, classy, and dignified even while they are undressing. In addition to all of this,though, I'm not really sure what else I can say about this artwork.

I also like Franz Marc's two horse paintings from 1911:





Their vivid and vibrant colors indicate that this might be a type of dream world, a world where one can allow one's thoughts to roam and float freely and vividly. These horse paintings are certainly rather joyful but also cause one to think about the character and characteristics of these dream worlds. Perhaps these paintings represent the unsullied force of nature, a place where horses and even humans can roam freely away from urban, industrial, and modern civilization--a world that is more primitive but also in a sense more beautiful than the modern world is. The blue colors on these horses might indicate that these horses are meant to activate our imaginations and to allow us to think about just how beautiful an imaginary, natural world can be--a world of simple things and simple delights full of vibrancy and optimism.

I also like Paolo Uccello's The Hunt in the Forest (probably from the 1470s) for its use of perspective as well as for the fact that it shows the joyful, vibrant, lively, and exciting atmosphere of the hunt for European nobility and the European upper-class in the late 15th century; in this regard, one can say that not that much has actually changed in regards to hunting over the last several centuries other than perhaps the fact that it became accessible to a much larger segment of society:



@Niobe, am I moving this thread back in the right direction? :)
I appreciate that you've share your impressions of these works. These paintings can be like any other historical topic - one where you research the background, the artist's motivations, the cultural influences of the era and the public response to the work (then and now).

Les Poseuses is tongue in cheek description for what translates into English as 'The Models' - but the French for an artist's model is modèles, not poseuses. Poseuses can refer to a person who seeks to attract notice by an artificial or affected manner, but it was also slang at the time for a prostitute. This woman/women are undoubtedly prostitutes as well as models - this one is undressing to be used as a model in the artist's studio (you were 100% correct, there). Some say it is three different women - though it almost appears to be the same woman (Seurat's mistress, Madeleine?) on three different days; three different poses; as a "continuous narrative", like you see often in Renaissance art and earlier. The direct gaze of the center model heightens the sense of voyeurism impressed on the viewer - it is difficult to escape her gaze. At the time in France there was a society frowned upon the artist's models (who were typically working class women) as key in the sort of greater moral erosion they saw happening in society. The directness of this woman's gaze, the loud clothing that echoes those 'smart' pieces worn in the La Grande Jatte all bring to bear upon the viewer that this woman who is of the lowest rung of society and blamed for undermining morality is suddenly .... the personification of all that is beautiful and elegant... Aphrodite, if you drape her with cloth... As Frances Borzello wrote: "Society may have respected the painting of the nude but disparaged the unclothed woman who modeled for it".

References to fat shaming or other modern ideas ... is like ... saying Socrates "mansplained" too much to be valid... or that cake "triggered" Robspierre. It's really only passable as a joke... and would get you an F on an Art History assignment. 😬

As Far as Franz Marc's horses... they have far more mixed meanings afaik. The German Expressionists had a strange preoccupation with the idea of the apocalypse - that it would advance their ideals... They were influenced by nihilism and the writings of Nietzsche - and also perhaps were cognizant of the shifting tensions that lead up to WWI. The same blue shade is used in his Fate of the Animals to denote hope for the period of time after the apocalyptic destruction that would make way for a new world. This blue shade also is featured in his Tower of Blue Horses, which depicts a group of horses are four in number, aligned almost from top to bottom (one after another) - those horses, wearing their crescent "badge" seem more a reference to the apocalypse than anything else. Destruction and hope two different sides of the same coin for Marc - and it certainly seemed that he looked to animals to express his desire for a return to innocence (so again, you've hit on something there in your observations). The Tower of Blue Horses was intended to be included in the Nazi's Degenerate Art Exhibition, but was sparred on account of Marc's having died for Germany in WWI... it was in Göring's stolen art collection but went missing at the end of WWII.


There is so much information that can be learned about these pieces... beyond their beautiful or captivating appearance...

I do genuinely appreciate your kindness in wishing to follow the OP's outlines.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
31,535
SoCal
I appreciate that you've share your impressions of these works. These paintings can be like any other historical topic - one where you research the background, the artist's motivations, the cultural influences of the era and the public response to the work (then and now).
That makes sense. thanks for explaining this, Niobe! :)

Les Poseuses is tongue in cheek description for what translates into English as 'The Models' - but the French for an artist's model is modèles, not poseuses. Poseuses can refer to a person who seeks to attract notice by an artificial or affected manner, but it was also slang at the time for a prostitute. This woman/women are undoubtedly prostitutes as well as models - this one is undressing to be used as a model in the artist's studio (you were 100% correct, there). Some say it is three different women - though it almost appears to be the same woman (Seurat's mistress, Madeleine?) on three different days; three different poses; as a "continuous narrative", like you see often in Renaissance art and earlier. The direct gaze of the center model heightens the sense of voyeurism impressed on the viewer - it is difficult to escape her gaze. At the time in France there was a society frowned upon the artist's models (who were typically working class women) as key in the sort of greater moral erosion they saw happening in society. The directness of this woman's gaze, the loud clothing that echoes those 'smart' pieces worn in the La Grande Jatte all bring to bear upon the viewer that this woman who is of the lowest rung of society and blamed for undermining morality is suddenly .... the personification of all that is beautiful and elegant... Aphrodite, if you drape her with cloth... As Frances Borzello wrote: "Society may have respected the painting of the nude but disparaged the unclothed woman who modeled for it".
That's certainly an interesting point that you make here--specifically, that good clothing can transform a shaggy, wretched working-class woman into Cinderella! I guess that this could be one origin source for the Cinderella story. I also wonder if there was a sense of hypocrisy among upper-class people during this time--as in, with them publicly disparaging prostitutes while at the same time perhaps sometimes nevertheless being willing to secretly have sex with prostitutes. It's like the anti-gay politician who secretly has a gay affair! :lol: As for it being the same woman, that's certainly possible based on the similarity of these three women's appearances. I do wonder if there's any way to know this for certain, though.

Also, I would like to make an additional point here: This painting was painted at roughly the same time (late 1880s) that the Jack the Ripper murders were occurring in the London area. So, Yeah, working-class women and especially prostitutes really did have a hard time back then up to the point of occasionally being murdered and mutilated--though that was a rather rare occurrence. Much more common was probably a life of poverty and stigma--possibly being perceived as being inferior to the upper class and also being less clean and less dignified than the upper-class were.

References to fat shaming or other modern ideas ... is like ... saying Socrates "mansplained" too much to be valid... or that cake "triggered" Robspierre. It's really only passable as a joke... and would get you an F on an Art History assignment. 😬
That comment of mine was actually a reference to the fact that beauty standards were a bit different 100+ years ago--with Rubensque women being viewed as much more desirable 100+ years ago than they are today; for instance, here is a description of the ideal woman from 1912:



Granted, the woman/women in that Seurat painting wasn't/weren't Rubenesque by any stretch of the imagination, but she/they nevertheless had a bit of extra fat on her belly--and this was at a time where being fat or even overweight was presumably much less prevalent than it is today. Maybe that's what made fatter bodies more attractive back then--as in, the fact that they signified that one was not malnourished--and malnourishment might have been a very real and sometimes serious problem back then even in countries that are now perceived as being developed, such as Western Europe and/or the United States of America.

As Far as Franz Marc's horses... they have far more mixed meanings afaik. The German Expressionists had a strange preoccupation with the idea of the apocalypse - that it would advance their ideals... They were influenced by nihilism and the writings of Nietzsche - and also perhaps were cognizant of the shifting tensions that lead up to WWI.
So, they hoped that WWI would usher in an Expressionist wave? Or did they aim for something even large rthan that?

The same blue shade is used in his Fate of the Animals to denote hope for the period of time after the apocalyptic destruction that would make way for a new world. This blue shade also is featured in his Tower of Blue Horses, which depicts a group of horses are four in number, aligned almost from top to bottom (one after another) - those horses, wearing their crescent "badge" seem more a reference to the apocalypse than anything else. Destruction and hope two different sides of the same coin for Marc - and it certainly seemed that he looked to animals to express his desire for a return to innocence (so again, you've hit on something there in your observations).
Interesting. So, Franz Marc apparently hoped to use the trauma of war in order to create a new, purer, and more innocent order and society? The use of war for human redemption, if you will?

The Tower of Blue Horses was intended to be included in the Nazi's Degenerate Art Exhibition, but was sparred on account of Marc's having died for Germany in WWI... it was in Göring's stolen art collection but went missing at the end of WWII.
It's actually really sad that this painting went missing after WWII but thankfully we do have a copy of it with us right now:


I do hope that the original painting will eventually be rediscovered, though. Maybe it's located in some banal location (like an old warehouse) just like the original copy of Jean Renoir's 1937 film The Grand Illusion (La Grande Illusion) was before it was discovered in I believe the 1990s.

There is so much information that can be learned about these pieces... beyond their beautiful or captivating appearance...
Completely agreed. :)

I do genuinely appreciate your kindness in wishing to follow the OP's outlines.
Thank you very much, Niobe! :)
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
31,535
SoCal
BTW, @Niobe, did you see my essay on James Ensor's 1889 painting about Jesus Christ in Brussels? I posted this essay onto this forum several days ago.

Also, here are two paintings about a theme that strongly interests me:

The first painting is Emmanuel Leutze's Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way (1861); there are two versions/copies of this painting:





Basically, this painting symbolizes the rugged pioneer spirit and sense of adventure that symbolized the early US. Basically, Americans were sometimes willing to leave their old lives behind and risk everything in order to move further west. It was sometimes a risky journey--such as when one had to cross deserts and/or mountains in order to get to one's desired location--but it was nevertheless probably often perceived to be worth it so that one could start a new, better life further west in the US--sometimes on the frontier. Personally, the life of a farmer or a rancher is certainly not very appealing to me, but the idea of moving further west and settling in some city as an urban pioneer is, in fact, relatively attractive to me from the perspective of 19th century American life. I personally am a huge fan of the idea of filling sparsely populated territories, building huge cities on them, and making these territories great, so to speak. :)

I also really like the painting American Progress (1872) by John Gast:



Wikipedia provides a good description of this painting here:


American Progress (1872) by John Gast is an allegorical representation of the modernization of the new west. Columbia, a personification of the United States, is shown leading civilization westward with the American settlers. She is shown bringing light from the East into the West, stringing telegraph wire, holding a school textbook that will instill knowledge,[1] and highlights different stages of economic activity and evolving forms of transportation.[2]
While I certainly don't approve of the treatment that Native Americans often received at the hands of the "white man", I nevertheless agree with the general theme of this painting. Specifically, I agree with this painting that the US brought modernity and civilization--as well as mass settlement--to the territories that it expanded to in the west. This painting shows plowmen, pioneer wagons, log cabins, railroads, ships, and telegraphs racing across the North American continent--while the "savage" Indians and wildlife (such as bears) are gradually being pushed further and further west back into the darkness. This painting also shows Columbia, a female personification of the US (please see here: Columbia (name) - Wikipedia) as leading this US westward expansion--which symbolizes that this westward expansion and mass settlement is a project that unites the entire American people and the entire American nation--something that certainly makes sense. Indeed, the early US was certainly a pioneer society on a very large scale and thus it would make sense for the entire US population other than the Native American themselves to be heavily invested in the US's westward expansion and in US efforts to bring "civilization" and modernity to North American territories further and further west. I also certainly have to admit that after the "white man" settled huge parts of the US in the 18th and 19th centuries, life there--other than perhaps initially for Native Americans (though they ultimately eventually benefited from this as well)--became much, much better than it previously was. Indeed, the Mexicans and Native Americans who currently live in the US live much better than they did before the "white man" came over to their territories. Heck, just compare the lives of Mexicans and Native Americans in the US (or Canada) and Mexico and Central America--there's absolutely no comparison! This might be an unpleasant fact for some people, but it nevertheless is what it is. In fact, even among Mexican-Americans themselves, there (thankfully) appears to be no serious large-scale secessionist movement to get the Southwestern US to rejoin Mexico. It simply isn't happening because they themselves know what exactly is at stake in regards to this--specifically, a whole lot!
 
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