Category → historical figures
Fashion trends come and go but one thing stays the same: Kids and parents often don’t see eye-to-eye on style.
Even in 17th-century Amsterdam.
A great example of this was recently unearthed by University of Delft researcher, Margriet van Eikema Hommes, when she took a closer look at paintings by the Dutch artist Govert Flinck.
Flinck was a pupil of Rembrandt, but he had more commercial success than his teacher.
Case in point: When Amsterdam’s new town hall was built in the mid 1600s, it featured several Flinck works but only one by Rembrandt, and this lone Rembrandt painting was removed after a year, van Eikema Hommes says.
Flinck’s success was probably due to his strong familial connections to Amsterdam’s wealthy Mennonite community, who became his regular patrons. And therein lies the interesting historical fashion-friction.
It turns out that Amsterdam’s Mennonite community favored solemn, dark outfits. Meanwhile 17th-century cool kids wore colorful tights. (Much as modern-day hipsters opt for brightly colored stockings…)
In fact, some members of the Mennonite congregation would strike out against members who wore less conservative, fashionable clothing—clothing that the Mennonites considered indecent, van Eikema Hommes explains.
Against this cultural backdrop, Flinck was asked to paint a portrait of his young Mennonite nephew Dirck. If you look at the final version of the portrait from 1636, the nephew looks pretty much like a conservative young Mennonite.
But looks can be deceiving. Continue reading →
In 1932, David Alfaro Siqueiros got kicked out of Mexico for his political leanings so the artist spent six months in Los Angeles, California, where he produced a controversial mural called América Tropical.
Siqueiros may not be as well-known as his teacher and contemporary Diego Rivera, but these two, along with José Orozco, formed “Los Tres Grandes,” the big three Mexican muralists of the early 20th century.
During his stint in LA, Siqueiros was asked to paint a mural on a second story wall that overlooked Olvera Street, which was–and still is–a romanticized, somewhat kitschy Mexican market set up for tourists.
The idea was for Siqueiros to produce something that celebrated tropical America. The expectation was probably that it might be a romanticized vision of Mexico—just like the street below.
Instead Siqueiros, who was a die-hard Communist, produced a profoundly political piece of art: A crucified indigenous Mexican is at the forefront of the mural, with an American Eagle flying ominously above. A sharp shooter approaches from the right with his gun aimed at the Eagle.
To say the piece made a splash is a pretty major understatement. Continue reading →
It’s not exactly conservation-related, but I’ve added a post to the Newscripts blog that may appeal to Artful Science Readers. It’s about the fascinating provenance of an iconic portrait of pioneering chemist Antoine Lavoisier and his wife.
The omission might have been due to the fact that Antoine Lavoisier is an 18th century scientific superstar. Before getting beheaded in the French Revolution, he was the first to correctly explain the chemistry behind burning, rusting and respiration. He also studied infectious disease in urban zones, named the element oxygen and helped develop the metric system.
Meanwhile, Marie Anne Pierrette Paulze Lavoisier’s fascinating life and contributions to science have often been neglected.* This insult may be remedied (partially) by a panel discussion to be held at the Metropolitan Museum in New York this Sunday between two Nobel Laureates, Roald Hoffmann and Harold Varmus, and Kathryn Calley Galitz, a scholar of French art.
Continue reading →