History

Section



Design History

An Appliqued Solar System Quilt Used as a Teaching Aid in the Late 19th century

November 29, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

1876 Ellen Harding Baker’s “Solar System” Quilt, via The Smithsonian National Museum of American History

In the late 1800’s, teacher and astronomer Sarah Ellen Harding Baker spent seven years embroidering a star-covered quilt for her classroom in Cedar County, Iowa. In lieu of satellite images, the wool appliquéd quilt was created as a visual aid for her classroom to try to visualize the broad expanse of the universe. The design of the quilt is similar to illustrations in astronomy books of the time. It features a bright sun at its center, with several planets moving around the large star with their own orbiting moons, and Halley’s Comet streaking into the upper lefthand corner.

The piece was finished in 1876, a time when astronomy was presented as an “acceptable” interest for a women. This might have been the reason it was a popular theme for quilts of the time according to The Smithsonian National Museum of American History, where the quilt is currently stored. You can find several celestial examples in quilt historian Barbara Brackman’s Solar System Quilt post on her blog Material Culture. (via Open Culture)

 

 



Design History Illustration

Hundreds of Japanese Firework Illustrations Now Available for Free Download

November 15, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

In the early 20th-century English fireworks company C.R. Brock and Company (now known as Brocks Fireworks) published colorful catalogs displaying designs from Japanese companies such as Hirayama Fireworks and Yokoi Fireworks. Six catalogs of diverse pyrotechnic diagrams have been digitized and made available for download thanks to the city of Yokohama’s public library. If you don’t read Japanese, you can download each publication’s PDF by visiting their website, clicking one of the book’s English titles near the bottom of the page, and then clicking “本体PDF画像” link below the image. Each catalog is a tremendous and varied selection of the firework shapes and colors of the time, with several designs you might recognize no matter where you view contemporary fireworks displays. (via Open Culture)

 

 



Art Craft Design History

Art Historical Masterworks Come Alive at Annual Halloween Parade in Kawasaki, Japan

October 31, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Image via @_ellie_

Image via @_ellie_

Recently in Kawasaki, Japan, a sextet of famous paintings marched their way through the city’s annual Halloween parade— Picasso’s “The Weeping Woman,” Vincent van Gogh’s self portrait, Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” and of course Beast Jesus, the art world’s favorite botched masterpiece. Costume wearers presented themselves as the subjects of the famous paintings from the waist up, with fishnet stockings and heels from the waist down. The group won this year’s Pumpkin Award, taking home the grand prize and 500,000 yen, or around $4,400. You can see other prize winners of this year’s Kawasaki Halloween parade on their website, and view the paintings in action in a video by @_ellie_ below. (via Hyperallergic)

Image via @_ellie_

Image via @_ellie_

Image via @_ellie_

Image via @_ellie_

Image via @eurotwoner

Image via @eurotwoner

 

 



Art History

A Neoclassical Girl Towers Over Memphis in a Seven-Story Wheatpaste by Julien de Casabianca

October 10, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Artist Julien de Casabianca (previously) is known for wheatpasting subjects from famous paintings onto public infrastructure as part of his ongoing Outings Project. Last month the French artist was invited to present a monumental installation at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Tennessee alongside an exhibition and workshop. De Casabianca’s seven-story mural features a melancholic girl pulled from William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s 1886 neoclassical painting “Au pied de la falaise,” which is included in the museum’s collection.

Like his previous interventions, de Casabianca wanted to give the subject a new home, while also liberating her from the structure of the painting’s frame. In her new position she gazes out over the city, surveying the landscape from the building’s fire escape. The work is part of Brooks Outside, a recent curatorial program that presents outdoor installations around the institution’s grounds and city. You can see de Casabianca’s new work at 62 E.H. Crump Blvd through November 2018 as weather permits, and follow his travels on Instagram. (via Brooklyn Street Art)

 

 



Design History Illustration

An Early 20th Century Guide to Wave Designs for Japanese Craftsmen is Now Available Online

September 26, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

In 1903, Japanese artist Mori Yuzan’s wave designs were published in a resource guide for Japanese craftsmen looking to add aquatic motifs to their wares. The three-volume series, titled Hamonshū, includes variations on contained and free-form wave patterns suitable for embellishing swords, religious objects, and ceramics. The collection has recently been digitized and is available for free on Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library of free books, movies, and software. (via My Modern Met)

 

 



Art Craft History

A Peculiar Character From a Hieronymus Bosch Painting Comes to Life on the New York City Subway

September 19, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Artist Rae Swon recently brought a fantastical creature from The Temptation of St. Anthony to life on the New York City subway. The triptych painting created by Hieronymus Bosch in the early 16th century includes a small, peculiar figure on the left-hand triptych (detail below). The character has bird-like facial features, and appears to be wearing wooden ice skates and a funnel as a hat. After creating the modern-day costume using needle felting and other found materials, Swon took her character for a subway ride through Manhattan. Although this particular costume is sold out, you can see more of Swon’s fantastical felted creations like a Starling Coin Purse and an Opposum Purse on Instagram and Etsy. (via Hyperallergic)

Detail of Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Temptation of St. Anthony”

Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Temptation of St. Anthony”

 

 



Design History

Recently Digitized Journals Grant Visitors Access to Leonardo da Vinci’s Detailed Engineering Schematics and Musings

September 5, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Codex Forster II , Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. Forster MS.141. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Codex Forster II , Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. Forster MS.141. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London recently published scans of two of the Leonardo da Vinci notebooks so website visitors can digitally zoom and flip through the drawings and musings of the Italian Renaissance painter, architect, inventor, and sculptor. Jumbled together in the delicate journals are thoughts on both science and art—detailed charts and speculations contained on the same pages as observational sketches of hats or horse hooves.

Da Vinci is believed to have started recording his thoughts in notebooks during the 1480s while he was a military and naval engineer for the Duke of Milan. The writing included in the notebooks was produced in 16th-century Italian “mirror-writing,” which one reads right to left. Scholars have debated the reasoning behind this style, believing it was either a way to code his thoughts, or simply make writing easier as a left-handed artist. “Writing masters at the time would have made demonstrations of mirror-writing, and his letter-shapes are in fact quite ordinary: he used the kind of script that his father, a legal notary, would have used,” an article on the V&A’s website explains. “It is possible to decipher Leonardo’s curious mirror-writing, once the eye has become accustomed to the style.”

The collective title for the five notebooks in the V&A’s collection is the Forster Codices. This digitized set contains his earliest (1487-90, Milan) and latest (1505, Florence) notebooks in the museum’s collection. The name for the journals comes from John Forster who bequeathed the valuable works to the museum in 1876. The V&A plans to digitize the three other notebooks found in the two volumes Codex Forster II and III, for the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death in 2019. You can learn more about the series of notebooks in the collection on the V&A’s website. (via Boing Boing)

Codex Forster II (page 10 verso), Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. Forster MS.141. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Codex Forster II (page 10 verso), Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. Forster MS.141. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Codex Forster II (page 123 verso), Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. MSL/1876/Forster/141/II. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Codex Forster II (page 123 verso), Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. MSL/1876/Forster/141/II. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Codex Forster III (page 23 recto), Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. MSL/1876/Forster/141/III. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Codex Forster III (page 23 recto), Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. MSL/1876/Forster/141/III. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Codex Forster II (page 75 recto), Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. Forster MS.141. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Codex Forster II (page 75 recto), Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. Forster MS.141. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Codex Forster II (page 91 verso), Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. MSL/1876/Forster/141/II. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Codex Forster II (page 91 verso), Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. MSL/1876/Forster/141/II. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Codex Forster III (page 9 recto), Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. Forster MS.141. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Codex Forster III (page 9 recto), Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. Forster MS.141. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Three Volumes of Codex Forster, Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. MSL/1876/Forster/141. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Three Volumes of Codex Forster, Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. MSL/1876/Forster/141. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London