Louis Vauquelin

Louis Nicolas Vauquelin, a French chemist, was born May 16, 1763. In 1798, Vauquelin isolated a new element, chromium, from an ore called crocoite. Crocoite is mostly lead chromate and has a deep orange color (second image). Intrigued by the possibility of making a new pigment, by 1809 Vauquelin had learned how to produce a bright yellow powder, chrome yellow, which is lead chromate in a different form than found in crocoite…

William Bradford

William Bradford, an American explorer and painter, was born Apr. 30, 1823. He is known primarily for his paintings of the Far North, and for a book that is a milestone in the history of photography. Bradford travelled to the Arctic on the 1860 voyage led by Isaac Israel Hayes, in search of the supposed North Polar Sea. After his return, Bradford began to paint Arctic landscapes, often involving whalers and sealers, of which we see a sample above. “Caught in the Ice Floes,” painted around 1867, is in the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts. “An Incident of Whaling,” of unknown date, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as is “An Arctic Summer,” 1871…

Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch, a Norwegian artist, was born Dec. 12, 1863. Munch’s The Scream is one of the most iconic paintings in the world, as it seems to express so dramatically the angst of modern existence. There are four surviving versions of the painting: a pastel of 1893; an oil and tempera (also 1893), which is in the National Gallery in Oslo; a pastel of 1895, and a second oil and tempera version (1910) in the Munch Museum, also in Oslo…

Lyonel Feininger

Sometimes it is well to remind ourselves that scientists and engineers were not the only ones trying bring order to the world of the modern in the early 20th century. Artists were just as eager to find effective ways to capture a landscape of high-rise buildings, powerful locomotives, and ships at sea.

Raphael Sanzio

Raphael Sanzio, the great Renaissance artist, was born Apr. 6, 1483. If you dispute this date (some do), we note that Raphael died on Apr. 6 (no dispute here), so one way or the other, this is the correct day to pay tribute. Sometime between 1509…