Tuesday, January 5, 2016

life, art, biology, repeat: quick East Coast flash, bug question & a question answered

During our trip back east,
I pigged out at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
So yum.

What follows: a biological subset of the delicious repast.

Images Caveat
I looked for but didn't find "can't share these" on nga.gov,
I only took photos of those we were allowed to (w/o flash, of course),
& given that many can be downloaded for free here,
& many are >100 y.o., I'm thinking it's ok to share them here. =)
End Caveat

Gorgeous data bank

Painting style that makes the nature noodle in me drool...
Still Life with Flowers and Fruit
Jan Van Huysum, oil on panel, circa 1715, Dutch

Stunning, excruciatingly detailed work that seems like a
great way to preserve data re: living things (if accurate).

Can't imagine any pressed botanical specimen
having color like after 200 years
(tho' obviously natural history museum collections
can be staggeringly valuable to science).

Seems like you could ID many of these species,
if you knew where they were collected. Maybe. =)

And the bugs are the kicker.
Detail of Still Life with Flowers and Fruit

I bet $$ that's a (300 yr old) tiger beetle. =)

Can any bug people confirm or deny my tiger beetle guess?
Pretty please do, in comments, below. I'd be MOST grateful. =)

Fly, ants & butterfly (or moth?), same painting:

I think it'd be fun to review the flora and fauna
of paintings like these to see if they were accurately depicted.

Not your "Great British Bake Off"...
Still Life with Peacock Pie
Pieter Claesz
oil on panel, 1627, Dutch

This made me think of the amazing creations
that Great British Bake Off contestants try to emulate.

But, the first thing I thought of
when I saw the above was the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. =)
I'm pretty sure peacocks aren't covered by it (not native to US, etc.),
but part of my job is to look for such violations, so my brain sent up a RED FLAG. =)

Also, by now the bird's been dead for close to 400 years...

Among NGA's amazing display of lush American-made furniture,
this table leg caught my eye, for obvious reasons. =) 
RAWR! =)

I'll post more images & thoughts later,
but for now, I'll address what many have asked:

Why don't you spend more time at the Natural History Museum?

Because that stuff is what I've been studying
my WHOLE LIFE (or there abouts).

I want to look at different things,
unfamiliar things,
things I may not understand.

I want to explore other worlds when I'm on vacay.

And, apparently, art makes me happy.

Really happy.


Plus, there's LOADS of overlap between nature and art
which I'll continue to explore in further posts.

And I believe nature can explain much of why that overlap exists.

We're just another mammal, after all.




  1. Looks like a Green tiger beetle to me, though I'm used to seeing them in sandier habitats than this!

    1. Ah, thank you SO much for that ID clue!! I can confirm that there was precious little sand in the museum, tho' I might have brought in a trace from my east coast beachy explorations. =)


Cool people write inside rectangles....