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Portal:Arts

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The Arts Portal



The arts refers to the theory and physical expression of creativity found in human societies and cultures. Major constituents of the arts include literature (including drama, poetry, and prose), performing arts (among them dance, music, and theatre), and visual arts (including drawing, painting, filmmaking, architecture, ceramics, sculpting, and photography).

Some art forms combine a visual element with performance (e.g., cinematography) or artwork with the written word (e.g., comics). From prehistoric cave paintings to modern day films, art serves as a vessel for storytelling and conveying humankind's relationship with the environment.

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The Magdalen Reading
The Magdalen Reading is one of three surviving fragments of a large mid-15th century oil-on-oak altarpiece by the early Netherlandish painter Rogier van der Weyden. Completed some time between 1435 and 1438, it has been in the National Gallery, London since 1860. It shows a woman with the pale skin, high cheek bones and oval eyebrows typical of the idealised portraits of noble women of the period. The woman is identifiable as the Magdalen from the jar of ointment placed in the foreground, which, according to the Gospels, she used to clean Christ's feet.

The background of the painting had been overpainted with a thick layer of brown paint. A cleaning between 1955 and 1956 revealed the figure standing behind the Magdalen and the kneeling figure with bare feet protruding in front of her, with a landscape visible through a window. The original altarpiece was a sacra conversazione known only through a drawing, Virgin and Child with Saints.

The panel was purchased by the National Gallery from a collector in Paris. It is described by art historian Lorne Campbell as "one of the great masterpieces of 15th-century art and among van der Weyden's most important early works."

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Megalith on Nias, IndonesiaCredit: Photo: Ludwig Borutta; Restoration: Lise Broer

Megaliths, some decorated, were a part of the culture of the island of Nias off the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Among the many uses of these large stones were statues, seats for the chieftains, and tables where justice was done. Additionally, some stones commemorated the deaths of important people. In this 1915 photo, such a stone is hauled upwards, reportedly taking 525 people three days to erect in the village of Bawemataloeo.

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Hayyim Selig Slonimski

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Gertrude Stein photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1935

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Portrait of Henry, Prince of Wales, and John Harington, by Robert Peake the Elder
Robert Peake the elder (c. 1551–1619) was an English painter active in the later part of Elizabeth I's reign and for most of the reign of James I. In 1604, he was appointed picture maker to the heir to the throne, Prince Henry, and in 1607, serjeant-painter to King James I, a post he shared with John De Critz. Peake is often called "the elder", to distinguish him from his son, the painter and print seller William Peake (c. 1580–1639) and from his grandson, Sir Robert Peake (c. 1605–1667), who followed his father into the family print-selling business. Peake was the only English-born painter of a group of four artists whose workshops were closely connected. The others were De Critz, Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, and the miniature-painter Isaac Oliver. Between 1590 and about 1625, they specialised in brilliantly coloured, full-length "costume pieces" (example pictured) that are unique to England at this time. It is not always possible to attribute authorship among Peake, De Critz, Gheeraerts and their assistants with certainty.

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Instrumental version of the most famous song from the 1921 musical Shuffle Along, recorded during its original Broadway run. Later used as a presidential campaign song for Harry Truman.

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