Altered and adorned: an interview with Suzanne Karr Schmidt

Message box with hand-painted print, Germany, 1490s. Featured inSuzanne Karr Schmidt and Kimberly Nichols, Altered and Adorned. Today I’m pleased to offer up Res Obscura’s very first guest post: an interview conducted by Hasan Niyazi of the popular art history blog Three Pipe Problem. I’ve been a big fan of this blog since discovering it last […]

A Renaissance Merchant’s Life in Clothing

I’ve just finished reading Ulinka Rublack’s Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe (Oxford, 2010) and came away from it with a newfound appreciation for how truly odd early modern clothing was — and how important these clothes were in people’s daily lives. Rublack, a Cambridge history professor, is very shrewd in noting that obsolete sartorial choices like […]

Pseudo-Kufic: Renaissance Imitations of Arabic Script

Kufic script is a lovely and ancient variant of the Arabic alphabet that developed out of the Nabatean alphabet of Classical-era Petra. This example from a c. 8th century Koran highlights the characteristic angular style of the script, which made it uniquely well-suited for use in stone inscriptions, pottery and in rugs and other woven […]

Animals in Pisanello

Looking at the paintings of the early Italian Renaissance painter Pisanello just now, I was struck by how wonderfully delicate and accurate his paintings of animals are. If he had lived in a different time or created these images in a different context (one of scientific learning rather than courtly patronage) I’m convinced that Pisanello […]