Boy Bitten by a Lizard
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Caravaggio)
Fondazione di Studi di Storia dell’Arte Roberto Longhi, Florence, Italy
One of Caravaggio’s biographers wrote that “he also painted a boy bitten by a lizard emerging from flowers and fruits; you could almost hear the boy scream, and it was done meticulously.” The picture has suggested various interpretations. As an allegory of touch, it provides the basis for a study of how emotion is expressed physically, and arguably Caravaggio alludes to all the five senses (flowers as smell and so on). With the still life of fruits and roses, common emblems of love, he invokes age-old adages—pain can follow pleasure, and love is a rose with thorns that prick. Poets from Petrarch onward played on the similarity of the Italian words for “love” and “bitter”—amore and amaro—to which Caravaggio adds ramarro (lizard), ingeniously enlarging the joke.
Raphael Sanzio da Urbino (Raphael)
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome, Italy
Lady in a Red Dress
1532, oil on panel
Frankfurt/M., Stadelsches Kunstinstitut
The School of Athens
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (Raphael)
Stanze di Raffaello, Apostolic Palace, Vatican City
Classical antiquity’s most renowned mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers are gathered together here in Raphel’s fresco, commissioned by Julius II. People of note in this piece include Plato and Aristotle, caught in mid-conversation at the direct center of the work. On the lower left portion of the piece sits Pythagoras, with his face deeply hidden in a book. Ptolemy stands on the bottom right of the piece, holding a globe, directly above Euclid as he demonstrates why he is known as the “Father of Geometry.”
Can anyone think back to their Art History courses and recall where Raphael has included himself in the painting?
15th-16th century AD
The British Museum, London, England, UK
Pieces of turquoise, conch shell, and crab shell create the mosaic exterior of this double-headed serpent on a wooden base. Measuring at 17 inches by 8 inches, it has been surmised that the sculpture was given to Hernan Cortés by Moctezuma II after his arrival at Tenochtitlan in 1519.
Victory or The Genius of Victory
Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy
Check out the figura serpentinata on this sculpture. (Sorry contrapposto, we love you, but you’re just not going to cut it here.)
The Great Piece of Turf
Can you believe this is a watercolor? Northern Renaissance art never ceases to amaze me.
Cornelis Cornelisz of Harrlem
The Monk and the Nun
Jacopo Comin, called Tintoretto
The Transportation of the Body of Saint Mark
Oil on canvas
Commissioned by Tomaso Rangone for the Scuola Grande di S. Marco, Venice.