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Feature Archive

February, 1999: Spotlight on Great Art

For our first spotlight feature, we are focusing on Great Art - choosing from the very best that the web has to offer in each category, from the age of giants.
The featured artist is Leonardo da Vinci, whose name is synonymous with Art, as it is with Science. He also painted the Mona Lisa, which is surely the single most famous work of art of all time. A genius who was centuries ahead of his time, he is the prototypical "Renaissance Man" and at the end of this year many will judge him to be the greatest man of the millennium. Quite a resumé. Click here for a biography and a very complete list of sites where his artwork can be seen on the Internet. da Vinci: Head of a Woman

Michelangelo: Crouching Boy The featured museum site is the vast State Hermitage Museum, in St. Petersburg, Russia - one of the two or three greatest museums in the world. Click here to see a review of their site and to access their home page.

The featured online exhibit is the National Gallery of Art's Watson and the Shark, by John Singleton Copley. Copley doesn't quite fit in to the timeline of the other featured artists, but nonetheless this exhibit is a textbook example of how to do everything right when putting important artwork online. The NGA makes it look easy, but in fact only a handful of museum sites have attempted anything this ambitious. Click here to see a brief description of the exhibit and to access its home page.


The featured book is The Sistine Chapel: A Glorious Restoration, by Carlo Pietrangeli et al. The undertaking of this restoration of Michelangelo's masterpiece was widely and hotly debated, but in the end it seems to have been a smashing success and one of the artistic events of the century. This volume contains 293 full-color reproductions, on virtually every page, and also squeezes in ten essays, written by leading scholars in the field, which discuss Michelangelo's technique, the interpretation of the frescoes, and the restoration project itself. Click here to see the table of contents.
(This book is available for sale in association with Amazon.com)
If you want to see the effect cleaning has had, you can find a few side-by-side comparisons on a site hosted by Wayne State University:
           The Creation of Adam
           The Prophet Zechariah
           The Prophet Jonah

The featured print is L'Astronomia [no longer available], by Raphael, a contemporary of Leonardo and Michelangelo, and I'm running out of superlatives at this point but he was also a phenomenally talented artist. This work - considered by many to be an allegory of the beginning of the universe - is a detail from the ceiling of the Stanza della Segnatura, in the Vatican. Immediately below L'Astronomia is Raphael's famous The School of Athens. No longer available