Articles

Posted 03/22/16

A divine passion

Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun was the most sought-after portraitist of the ancien régime. A retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art rightly calls attention to her extraordinary talent rather than her gender.  

Posted 03/17/16

Sites along the Schuylkill

The story goes that the Dutch, sailing up the Delaware River, missed the marshy entrance to its largest tributary. Upon discovering their mistake, the Europeans dubbed the waterway the Schuyl Kill, or “Hidden River.” The Dutch were soon squeezed out of Pennsylvania by the Swedes and then the English, but the name somehow stuck, showing up as the “Scool Kill River” on Thomas Holmes’s 1683 Portraiture of the City of Philadelphia, the idealized plan for William Penn’s city imagined as a grid of streets and squares set between two rivers.

Posted 03/15/16

Enlightenment in Black and White

Nestled along the luxuriant cliff-side banks of the Mekong River, Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos, is a city of stately palaces, villas, and bungalows left from the French colonial period, as well as many golden temples (vats) alive with the Buddhist culture of their attendant monasteries. While its local textile industry is renowned, what seduces the visitor to Luang Prabang is the tranquil pace of life, where time is marked by the gongs and drums that signal the daily rituals of the monks. These begin at daybreak with Tak Bat, when the monks, from sixty-four monasteries, process down the main street, Sakkaline Road, to receive alms in the form of nourishment placed in their ample tin-lidded bowls by residents who kneel curbside. 

Posted 03/04/16

Cajun and Creole, the rough and the fine

Over the past ten years Wade Lege has rescued some of the disappearing landmarks of his native Louisiana, beginning with a group of Acadian cottages and culminating in the ongoing restoration of a Greek revival house originally from Kismet plantation.

Posted 03/02/16

Rockwell Kent and Edward Hopper: Looking out, Looking Within

Consider Rockwell Kent's paintings of land and sea as modern American mindscapes—poetic distillations of remote places that probe the mysteries of life. Kent hoped viewers would lose themselves in contemplation before his haunting visions.1 "Essentials only ought to go into painting," he insisted. "I want the elemental, infinite thing; I want to paint the rhythm of eternity."2 He perceived the earth and heavens as psychological force fields imposing their nature upon man to make him what he is.3 Critics recognized a "stark strength" and "mystic imagination" pulsing through his paintings of Monhegan Island, Newfoundland, the Alaska Territory, and Tierra del Fuego.4  

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