Art Institute’s Art Tab highlights from February 2020

Here are 28 of my favorite artworks displayed in February 2020 from the Art Tab Chrome extension. Every time you open a new browser tab, you get a different work of art from the Art Institute of Chicago’s collection.

Tribune Tower?

The way #ArtTab crops this sketch, it looks like the place where I worked for 18 years. Click through and you’ll see the rest of the scene is in Normandy, France; not Chicago, USA.


What a pleasant surprise in my browser. A Kandinsky!

My #ArtTab is set to show only images in the public domain, thus the artwork shown definitely skews to the older side. It’s nice to see something of the 20th century.


Awww, this is a nice image made by French artist Paul Gavarni 1857–58.

This makes me think of my two daughters when they get older #GirlDad


Well, look here. It’s Saint Matthew.

His nimbus (halo) is a bit awkward. 


The art that pops up in my browser most often is a surprise.

Check out this guy with his hat flying off in the middle of a sea storm. 
And this title! 


What a funny looking set of characters.

Then you realize the funny looking characters are inside the letter D, which is a character. And that there is a series of these characters inside characters. 

These are in the public domain. Hmmm. Interesting. 

  • Letter D, 1630
  • Peter Aubry (German, 1596-1668)

This makes me want to draw mountains and cliffs


The way the trees dot the landscape feels like something

What does it feel like? 

  • Futakawa: Sarugababa Plateau (Futakawa, Sarugababa), from the series “Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido (Tokaido gojusan tsugi no uchi),” also known as the Hoeido Tokaido
  • c. 1833/34
  • Utagawa Hiroshige 歌川 広重 (Japanese, 1797-1858)

The photograph of this ring in the Art Institute’s collection looks like it was found on the street.

This ring is from 1390 BC Egypt. That’s some old dirt! 


Very mysterious. 

Whoa, then you click through and see the bottom half of the image. Mind blown. Ok, who did this?… Paul Gauguin?! I am normally not a fan of Paul Gaugin, but wow. This here is something Gaugin did that was actually good. 


Fun cropping


More fun cropping.

What is he looking at?


“What do I hold in my hand?” 

A potato chip? 

Just what is a Quacksalver?  wiktionary.org says: quacksalver (plural quacksalvers) (archaic) One falsely claiming to possess medical or other skills, especially one who dispenses potions, ointments, etc., supposedly having curative powers; a quack.

“This potato chip has the medical powers to cure all your ails!” 


Oh, this is just awesome to see full-size in your browser. 


At first glance, this appears to be a quant ceramic statuette.

Look closer at what is happening with their hands, and you’ll say, ‘OOOOOH MY!’ Then look at the animals and the ground, and you’ll say, ‘WHAAATHE?!” 


AAAAATTTTTAAAAAACCCCCKKKKK!!!!!!

They must get some serious acceleration going down that steep cliff. Imagine if they were in Japanese sleds of doom. 


Is this some sort of dancing monkey?

What is happening here?  The rope coming out of the monkey is surely a leash. But it also looks like some sort of electronic control. What is the man on the right doing? Playing an instrument? About to swing some sort of stick? 


This man looks incredibly chill for having his boat rocked and attacked by a shark.

Maybe sharks were more friendly in 1889? 


Even though this appears to be fancy china, this plate is very well-used.

Someone liked this plate so much, that they didn’t keep it up on a shelf. They used it for meals. Once you are done with your steak, look whose face appears—Benjamin Lincoln! 

Wait. Benjamin Lincoln? Is he related to Abraham Lincoln? Perhaps a great uncle or something? Or… OR. Maybe this is a CYBORG combination of Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin. 

It appears not

A Patriot of the American Revolution for MASSACHUSETTS with the rank of MAJOR GENERAL. DAR Ancestor # A070402 When he died the bells of Boston tolled for an hour. John Adams was one of his pallbearers. Benjamin Lincoln (January 24, 1733 – May 9, 1810) was an American Army officer. He served as a Major General in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He is notable for overseeing the largest US surrender of the war at Siege of Charleston and for being the officer who formally accepted the British surrender at Yorktown.

Snaaaap. How could we have not heard of this Benjamin Lincoln? 

  • Plate
  • c. 1790
  • English for the American market

Ummmmmmm… WHAT IN THE WORLD?

A muscular man with an OWL HEAD sinisterly looking up from his notepad, clutching a mystery bag… WITH SOME SORT OF ANIMAL TAIL DANGLING FROM HIS BEAK. 

Even the title is mysterious. “The Slanderer”  At the bottom of this print is some French words, which may unlock the explanation behind this scene. However, also at the bottom of this print is a dead corpse. So I ain’t unlocking any mystery. #runsaway Full image for the brave.

  • The Slanderer, 1851
  • Charles Rambert (French, active c. 1836-1867, died before 1899)
  • printed by Kaeppelin
  • published by Blandin, éditeur

King of Italy—Victor Emmanuel. 

Imagine if our president today had a mustache like this. 

Yipes! This guy appointed Benito Mussolini as Prime Minister and later deposed him in 1943 during World War II. His reign encompassed the birth, rise, and fall of Italian Fascism and its regime.

Ummm, no thank you to this mustache.


The top half of this artwork looks pretty cool.

The bottom half—is a bit icky. 

  • Saint Jerome, 1637
  • Bartolomeo Coriolano (Italian, c. 1599-c. 1676)
  • after Guido Reni (Italian, 1575-1642)

Can you name this artwork? 

Someone has to have made that into a game or something. Taking just the backgrounds of famous artworks and have people guess what it is. Especially when it’s the background not from the original painting, but from a preparatory sketch.


Oh, when gnome hats were in style. 

This porcelain figure was created by the Russian Imperial Porcelain Factory in 1779/96

  • Figure of Fisherman
  • c. 1779/96
  • Modeled by Jean Rachette (French, 1744-1809)
  • Russian Imperial Porcelain Factory

How did this modern artwork get into my #ArtTab?

#ArtTab only shows Public Domain artworks from 1923 and earlier.

Wait—it’s a 7th century BC piece of Chinese jewelry.


Father Time is pretty cool. 

I’d like to do more research on Father Time. The concept of time is so fascinating. 

  • Father Time
  • n.d.
  • Attributed to Alessandro Algardi
  • Italian, 1598–1654

Floating Japanese aquariums.

So trippy that these were made in the 19th century.


This is what the painter Whistler looks like? 

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