Human-headed winged lion (lamassu)
From the ninth to the seventh century B.C., the kings of Assyria ruled over a vast empire centered in northern Iraq. The great Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883–859 B.C.), undertook a vast building program at Nimrud, ancient Kalhu. Until it became the capital city under Ashurnasirpal, Nimrud had been no more than a provincial town.
The new capital occupied an area of about nine hundred acres, around which Ashurnasirpal constructed a mudbrick wall that was 120 feet thick, 42 feet high, and five miles long. In the southwest corner of this enclosure was the acropolis, where the temples, palaces, and administrative offices of the empire were located. In 879 B.C. Ashurnasirpal held a festival for 69,574 people to celebrate the construction of the new capital, and the event was documented by an inscription that read: "the happy people of all the lands together with the people of Kalhu—for ten days I feasted, wined, bathed, and honored them and sent them back to their home in peace and joy."
The so-called Standard Inscription that ran across the surface of most of the reliefs described Ashurnasirpal's palace: "I built thereon [a palace with] halls of cedar, cypress, juniper, boxwood, teak, terebinth, and tamarisk as my royal dwelling and for the enduring leisure life of my lordship." The inscription continues: "Beasts of the mountains and the seas, which I had fashioned out of white limestone and alabaster, I had set up in its gates. I made it [the palace] fittingly imposing." Among such stone beasts is the human-headed, winged lion pictured here. The horned cap attests to its divinity, and the belt signifies its power. The sculptor gave these guardian figures five legs so that they appear to be standing firmly when viewed from the front but striding forward when seen from the side. Lamassu protected and supported important doorways in Assyrian palaces.
Temple of Dendur
The Temple of Dendur (Dendoor in nineteenth century sources) is an Ancient Egyptian temple that was built by the Roman governor of Egypt, Petronius around 15 BC, as one of many Egyptian temples commissioned by the emperor Augustus. It was dedicated to Isis and Osiris, as well as two deified sons of a local Nubian chieftain, Pediese ("he whom Isis has given") and Pihor ("he who belongs to Horus"). In the 1960s, the temple was removed from its original location and given to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where it has been exhibited since 1978.
On the outer walls between earth and sky are carved scenes of the king making offerings to deities who hold scepters and the ankh, the symbol of life. The figures are carved in sunk relief. In the brilliant Egyptian sunlight, shadows cast along the figures' edges would have emphasized their outlines. Isis, Osiris, their son Horus, and the other deities are identified by their crowns and the inscriptions beside their figures. These scenes are repeated in two horizontal registers. The king is identified by his regalia and by his names, which appear close to his head in elongated oval shapes called cartouches; many of the cartouches simply read "pharaoh." This king was actually Caesar Augustus of Rome, who, as ruler of Egypt, had himself depicted in the traditional regalia of the pharaoh. Augustus had many temples erected in Egyptian style, honoring Egyptian deities. This small temple, built about 15 B.C., honored the goddess Isis and, beside her, Pedesi and Pihor, deified sons of a local Nubian chieftain.
In the first room of the temple, reliefs again show the "pharaoh" praying and offering to the gods, but the relief here is raised from the background so that the figures can be seen easily in the more indirect light. From this room one can look into the temple past the middle room used for offering ceremonies and into the sanctuary of the goddess Isis. The only carvings in these two rooms are around the door frame leading into the sanctuary and on the back wall of the sanctuary, where a relief depicts Pihor worshiping Isis, and below – partly destroyed – Pedesi worshiping Osiris.
Washington Crossing the Delaware
Washington Crossing the Delaware is an 1851 oil-on-canvas painting by the German American artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze. It commemorates General George Washington during his famous crossing of the Delaware River with the Continental Army on the night of December 25–26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War. That action was the first move in a surprise attack against the German Hessian allied mercenary forces at Trenton, New Jersey, in the Battle of Trenton on the morning of December 26.
The painting is notable for its artistic composition. General Washington is emphasized by an unnaturally bright sky, while his face catches the upcoming sun. The colors consist of mostly dark tones, as is to be expected at dawn, but there are red highlights repeated throughout the painting. Foreshortening, perspective and the distant boats all lend depth to the painting and emphasize the boat carrying Washington.
The people in the boat represent a cross-section of the American colonies, including a man in a Scottish bonnet and a man of African descent facing backward next to each other in the front, western riflemen at the bow and stern, two farmers in broad-brimmed hats near the back (one with bandaged head), and an androgynous rower in a red shirt, possibly meant to be a woman in man's clothing. There is also a man at the back of the boat wearing what appears to be Native American garb to represent the idea that all people in the new United States of America were represented as present in the boat along with Washington on his way to victory and success.
According to the 1853 exhibition catalogue, the man standing next to Washington and holding the flag is Lieutenant James Monroe, future President of the United States, and the man leaning over the side is General Nathanael Greene. Also, General Edward Hand is shown seated and holding his hat within the vessel.
The Death of Socrates
The Death of Socrates (French: La Mort de Socrate) is an oil on canvas painted by French painter Jacques-Louis David in 1787. The painting focuses on a classical subject like many of his works from that decade, in this case the story of the execution of Socrates as told by Plato in his Phaedo. In this story, Socrates has been convicted of corrupting the youth of Athens and introducing strange gods, and has been sentenced to die by drinking poison hemlock. Socrates uses his death as a final lesson for his pupils rather than fleeing when the opportunity arises, and faces it calmly. The Phaedo depicts the death of Socrates and is also Plato's fourth and last dialogue to detail the philosopher's final days, which is also detailed in Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito.
In the painting, an old man in a white robe sits upright on a bed, one hand extended over a cup, the other gesturing in the air. He is surrounded by other men of varying ages, most showing emotional distress, unlike the stoic old man. The young man handing him the cup looks the other way, with his face in his free hand. Another young man clutches the thigh of the old man. An elderly man sits at the end of the bed, slumped over and looking in his lap. To the left, other men are seen through an arch set in the background wall.
Ugolino and His Sons
Ugolino and His Sons is a marble sculpture of Ugolino made by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux in Paris during the 1860s. It depicts the story of Ugolino from Dante's Inferno in which the 13th century count is imprisoned and starving with his children. The work, known for its expressive detail, launched Carpeaux's career.
The work is a highly expressive depiction of Ugolino della Gherardesca from Canto XXXIII of Dante's Inferno. In the story, the Pisan count Ugolino is sentenced to die in a tower prison with his children and grandchildren. Carpeaux shows Ugolino at the moment where he considers cannibalism. The work is emblematic of the Romantic style's heightened physical and emotional states. Ugolino looks into the distance. His posture ignores the four children that cling to his body as if he were unaware they were there—the youngest is curled at his feet and possibly dead. In the source text, Ugolino grieves the agonizing death of his children and whether he eats his children's flesh is unclear to the reader, as it is in the sculpture. Ugolino's body is muscular even though he is starving. Its style reflects the Vatican's Laocoön and His Sons.
Portrait of Madame X
Madame X or Portrait of Madame X is the title of a portrait painting by John Singer Sargent of a young socialite named Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau, wife of the French banker Pierre Gautreau. Madame X was painted not as a commission, but at the request of Sargent. It is a study in opposition. Sargent shows a woman posing in a black satin dress with jeweled straps, a dress that reveals and hides at the same time. The portrait is characterized by the pale flesh tone of the subject contrasted against a dark colored dress and background.
The scandal resulting from the painting's controversial reception at the Paris Salon of 1884 amounted to a temporary set-back to Sargent while in France, though it may have helped him later establish a successful career in Britain and America.