The Shy Museumgoer

ART + HISTORY

It’s polite to stare

Titian, detail of "Venus with a Mirror" (c.1555)
Detail of Titian’s Venus with a Mirror (c.1555)

When we thoughtfully run our eyes over a great work of art, we carry with us something we didn’t have before. We take with us the artist’s view of the world. Why is this valuable? Because it increases our ability to appreciate an array of human experiences. I hope you enjoy these compelling paintings. I promise to write regularly . . .

  • Leonardo’s brazenly feminist portrait

    Leonardo’s brazenly feminist portrait

    During the Italian Renaissance, women were portrayed as ideals, symbols, and allegories — even in their own portraits. Then one day Leonardo da Vinci said goodbye to all that.

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  • St Jerome’s home office: Fit for a genius

    St Jerome’s home office: Fit for a genius

    For centuries people commissioned portraits to reinforce their role in society. It had little to do with our modern, lonely desire to feel seen for who we really are. Do we still believe a person can be described from a single viewpoint in one place? Will multimedia replace the official painted portrait?

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  • Titian paints lust with eloquence

    Titian paints lust with eloquence

    The Roman goddess Venus is depicted nude in works of art because she represents the lofty ideals of spiritual love and divine beauty. Not Titian’s Venus. She represents something more carnal.

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