Dictionary of Art and Artists


that Changed the World


  Lascaux Caves Manesse illuminated Massys Callot Friedrich Picasso
  Tutankhamen's tomb Lorenzetti Grunewald Rembrandt Constable Matisse
  Europa and Minotaur Karlstein Castle Baldung Claude Lorrain Delacroix Marc
  Banquet Tomb Limbourg brothers Altdorfer Velazquez Turner Kandinsky
  Pompeii Van Eyck Cranach Vermeer Ingres Monet
  Birth of Christianity Della Francesca Holbein Rigaud Manet Chirico
  Hagia Sophia Uccello Titian Watteau Burne-Jones Modigliani
  Book of Kells Mantegna Bruegel Canaletto Seurat Chagall
  St Benedict Botticelli Vicentino Boucher Van Gogh Kahlo
  Bayeux Tapestry Anonymous Arcimboldo Fragonard Toulouse-Lautrec Dali
  Donizo manuscript Durer El Greco Gainsborough Munch Ernst
  Liber Scivias Bosch Theodore de Bry John Trumbull Cezanne Hopper
  Carmina Burana Da Vinci Caravaggio David Gauguin Bacon
  Falcon Book Michelangelo Rubens Gros Degas Warhol
  Giotto Raphael Brouwer Goya Klimt  

From Lascaux to Warhol

Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth,
passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius,
but never abandoned.

William Butler Yeats




Expanding Horizons

Christopher Columbus on his way to the New World



They run about naked, are tall, with handsome bodies and pleasant countenances. Their skin colour resembles that of Canary Islands dwellers - they are neither white nor black. They would surely make good servants. I noticed that some wear a little piece of gold in a hole they make in their noses. This gold can probably be found in the interior of the country.

Christopher Columbus, from a log entry, 1492



Christopher Columbus, conjectural image
by Sebastiano del Piombo in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


At daybreak the ships weighed anchor in the Spanish harbour of Palos de Frontera. Thus began on 5 August 1492 an adventure that was to change the world. The Italian commander of the three ships — the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria — with their crew of eighty-eight men was Christopher Columbus, who would go down in history as the discoverer of America. Columbus, was born in Genoa in 1451, and he had long cherished the plan of finding a western passage to India. Since Greco-Roman antiquity, the talk of a western route to the East had never entirely ceased. Until Columbus, no one had dared set out to explore the possibility because the long voyage across the open sea presented not just a problem of navigation, but a psychological barrier as well. For centuries, vivid imaginations had pictured the ocean teeming with giant squids and other sea monsters. With the dawn of Humanism, however, such superstitious notions were jettisoned. Soon, with the development of new astronomical navigation instruments, the bearings of a ship could be taken accurately, even out of sight of land, and crossing the Atlantic no longer seemed so daunting; indeed, it looked like a practicable venture. Since the Ottomans had expanded their hegemony into the eastern Mediterranean, the traditional trade routes to India were blocked. Consequently, the Spanish King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella gave Columbus the money he needed and permission to start. In the agreement they concluded with him, the Spanish Kings conceded to Columbus the right to be Viceroy of all islands and territories he should discover and ten percent of any profit he might make. Both parties to the agreement were hoping for a rich haul of gold and silver.

Columbus set out with a document in his pocket which designated the purpose of his voyage as "service to God and the dissemination of the true religion", even though four of his crew were men who had been convicted of committing violent crimes but had been pardoned by Ferdinand and Isabella. It took Columbus and his three ships over sixty days before they sighted land. On 12 October 1492 they landed on the island of Guanahani, now one of the Bahama Islands. Columbus, of course, thought he was in India. In fact he was the discoverer of the New World. Falling on his knees and weeping, he kissed the earth, calling the place he had discovered San Salvador — Holy Redeemer. Then he raised the Spanish flag, had a crucifix erected and took possession of the land for Spain. The "Indios", as he dubbed the natives, struck him as being friendly and gentle. They seemed to have no idea of what weapons were. "I also think that they could be converted to Christianity without any difficulty", he noted in his log book. After discovering Cuba on 27 October 1492 and Haiti on 6 December, he departed for Spain with crates of gold which he had found. When the Spanish rulers saw what he had brought back with him, they started to plan future voyages; these explorations profoundly changed the course of history in the Americas, devastating ancient societies and giving rise to new ones.


Theodore de Bry
(Netherlandish, 1528-1598)
Columbus Landing in the New Woridon 12 October 1492


see collection:
 Theodore de Bry - "Indians of North America"

Theodore de Bry
The Widows Approach the Chief


Theodore de Bry
How they Treat Their Sick

Theodore de Bry
How Sentinels are Punished for Sleeping at Their Posts





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