A Colloquium in the Visual Arts

, University Teaching Gallery, Harvard Art Museums
  • Albrecht Dürer, Rhinoceros, 1515. Woodcut. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of William Gray from the collection of Francis Calley Gray, G1141. Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

  • Seated Sitatara (The White Tara)

    Seated Sitatara (The White Tara)

  • Seated Green Tara

    Seated Green Tara

  • Emperor Jahangir and Gosain Jadrup, Folio from the St. Petersburg Muraqqa’

    Emperor Jahangir and Gosain Jadrup, Folio from the St. Petersburg Muraqqa’

    The painting depicts Emperor Jahangir (r. 1605-1627) conversing with the famous Hindu ascetic, Gosain Jadrup. They are seated outside Jadrup’s humble hermitage, located on hillside and outside the city of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. The Mughal Emperor bears a halo which signifies his divinely-sanctioned rule. To demonstrate respect, Jahangir has removed his gold embroidered shoes, which are held by an attendant on the left. Standing next to Jahangir is a falconer with a large raptor perched on his glove. The painting is set within an elaborate border decorated with leaves in various colors.

  • Four Naked Women

    Four Naked Women

  • The Dream of the Doctor

    The Dream of the Doctor

  • Saint John before God and the Elders

    Saint John before God and the Elders

  • The Little Courier

    The Little Courier

  • Rhinoceros

    Rhinoceros

  • Adam and Eve

    Adam and Eve

  • Column Krater (mixing bowl for wine and water): Symposium; Cavalcade

    Column Krater (mixing bowl for wine and water): Symposium; Cavalcade

    Side A: Symposium; Side B: Cavalcade; Handle zone: Griffin-birds; Handle plates: Bearded male busts in profile.

  • The Knight on Horseback and the Lansquenet

    The Knight on Horseback and the Lansquenet

  • Forms of Vishnu, Kalamkari textile

    Forms of Vishnu, Kalamkari textile

    This large cotton textile is has painted mordant and dye designs depicting scenes of the various incarnations, or avatars, of the Hindu god Vishnu. Known as kalamkari ("pen-work"), textiles of this type and manufacture have been produced in India for centuries, for domestic use as well as for export to Southeast Asia and Europe. This example is from the Coromandel Coast in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, and likely originated around the turn of the 20th century from worshops in Kalahasti or Masulipatam. The composition of this work is divided into six vertical registers contained within a border of round floral repeat designs. A large scene of seated Vishnu, flanked by two standing attendants (possibly Bhu and Shri) is placed in the center of the composition, reaching two registers in height. Above and below this image, individual scenes of Vishnu are represented inside distinct cells within the registers. Text boxes help to delineate the registers, and the text, in Telegu script appears to describe the individual scenes. The textile is painted with iron mordants and vegetable dyes. Most noticable is the use of indigo to paint the blue body of Vishnu. The rest of the palate is restricted to warm brown tones. The cotton ground color is off-white to light brown.

  • Perspective View of Shin Yoshiwara in the Evening (Uki-e Shin Yoshiwara yūgure zu)

    Perspective View of Shin Yoshiwara in the Evening (Uki-e Shin Yoshiwara yūgure zu)

  • Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), also known as The Great Wave, from the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei)

    Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), also known as The Great Wave, from the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei)

  • Seven-Mile Beach in Sagami Province (Sōshū Shichiri-ga-hama), from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei)

    Seven-Mile Beach in Sagami Province (Sōshū Shichiri-ga-hama), from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei)

  • Knight, Death and the Devil

    Knight, Death and the Devil

  • The Four Riders of the Apocalypse

    The Four Riders of the Apocalypse

  • Portrait of Shah ‘Abbas I

    Portrait of Shah ‘Abbas I

  • Newly Published View of a Performance at Sakaichō (Shinpan tōto Sakaichō ōshibai no zu)

    Newly Published View of a Performance at Sakaichō (Shinpan tōto Sakaichō ōshibai no zu)

    Perspective view of the interior of a theater at Sakaichō, with actor Ichikawa Danjūrō 7th as Sukeroku striding down the hanamichi

  • Seated Bodhisattva Târâ in her “Green Manifestation”

    Seated Bodhisattva Târâ in her “Green Manifestation”

  • Two Pigeons

    Two Pigeons

  • Calling of Saint John

    Calling of Saint John

  • Oinochoe (wine pitcher): Two Warriors in Combat; Hermes and Giant (?)

    Oinochoe (wine pitcher): Two Warriors in Combat; Hermes and Giant (?)

    Black-figure oinochoe with trefoil mouth. White ground panel on the front of the vessel depicts two figures in combat: Hermes and a giant. On the left, Hermes lunges forward, plunging his sword into the nude, bearded giant who turns to look back at his attacker as he falls to his knee. He holds a rounded shield in defense and wears a Corinthian helmet pushed back on his head. Engaged in action, Hermes wears a short chiton, cloak, high boots, and a petasos. A small lion leaps towards the giant from Hermes' feet. The vessel is intact with added red details throughout including Hermes' beard, spear, and patterning on his cloak. The white ground panel is banded on the top and both sides by several rows of ornamental patterns. Red stripes circle the neck, lower body, and edge of the foot.

  • Melencolia I

    Melencolia I

  • The Witch

    The Witch

  • Saint Jerome in his Study

    Saint Jerome in his Study

  • Recto: Prince Khurram and Companions Visit a Hindu Sage; verso: Poem 37 by Hafiz penned and signed by Mir `Imad al-Hasani

    Recto: Prince Khurram and Companions Visit a Hindu Sage; verso: Poem 37 by Hafiz penned and signed by Mir `Imad al-Hasani

    The recto side of this folio features a painting depicting Prince Khurram, the future Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (r. 1627-1658). He sits on his knees with his hands clasped in front of him and faces a Hindu saint (sadhu). The holy man’s long hair and beard, as well as his legs bound in a yogic pose, suggests that he is a member of the ascetic Nath order. Naths believe that through yoga and its meditational exercises, they can achieve moksha (liberation) of the soul or even immortality. The Naths theological openness allowed association with non-Hindus, such as the Muslim Mughals. A stream divides the foreground, with two of Prince Khurram’s attendants on either side. In the background is a church steeple. The painting is surrounded by an illuminated border decorated a variety of animals in gold. On the reverse, there are three specimens of calligraphy in signed by master of nasta`liq script, `Imad al-Hasani known as Mir `Imad (1554-1615). The top specimen is in prose and the two vertical parts are both ghazal no. 37 by the Persian poet Hafiz Shirazi. It is probable that the left specimen is a copy of Mir `Imad's original calligraphy on the right, which was done out of respect (naql). They both carry Mir `Imad's signature and are dated 1018 H (1609-10), Isfahan (right); and Shawwal 1012 H (March 1604) (left). The text is contained within “clouds” that are set against gold ground decorated with small, colorful flowers. The verso side bears a border of blue paper with gold painted flowers.

  • A Nath Yogi with Two White Dogs, folio from the Salim Album

    A Nath Yogi with Two White Dogs, folio from the Salim Album

    The man represented here has attributes of a Nath yogi. As is customary for members of this group, he wears large, round earrings, a black sacred thread (janeo) with a small horn pendant, and a coral-or salmon-colored robe. His face and hands are covered with ashes, and he possesses a begging bowl and a crutch (acal) for supporting his chin or arm during meditation. Accompanied by two white dogs, he is shown sitting in an outdoor landscape, hugging his legs and looking at one of the animals. The dogs frolic around him, their playfulness enlivening the otherwise meditative composition. The painting is executed with extremely delicate brushwork (best seen under magnification) that conveys the artist’s visual sensitivity: textures and facial features are rendered with fine lines and subtle hues, and minute details are articulated with great precision. This page was part of a now-dispersed album of painting and calligraphy. Known as the Salim Album, it was made for Prince Salim, the future Mughal emperor Jahangir (r. 1605–27), at a time when he was in rebellion against his father, Akbar (r. 1556–1605). Several paintings from the album illustrate non-Islamic religious subjects that were of interest to both Akbar and Jahangir; some also represent known figures at the Mughal court. The particular features of this yogi—his round face, full cheeks, small nose, thin lips, and slanted eyes—may be seen as an attempt to render him in a personalized manner even if the artist was not intending to portray a specific individual. The painting is bordered above and below by couplets of Persian poetry that refer to the poet-lover who, separated from his beloved, has become an ascetic. A similarly composed page depicting a Nath yogi with a single dog has also been identified as having belonged to the Salim Album. Considering their related subject matter, composition, setting, and poetic inscriptions, one can surmise that the two pages faced each other in the album.

  • Fighting Wild Horses in a Wood

    Fighting Wild Horses in a Wood

  • Promenade

    Promenade

  • Saint Michael and the Dragon

    Saint Michael and the Dragon

  • Amphora (storage jar): Herakles Fighting Geryon; Arming of a Warrior

    Amphora (storage jar): Herakles Fighting Geryon; Arming of a Warrior

    On one side: Herakles fighting Geryon. For one of his labors, Herakles was required to travel to Erytheia, an island in the far west, to take the cattle of Geryon, a triple-bodied monster. Herakles stands at the left of the scene, with a red beard, and wearing his characteristic lionskin over a short red tunic (chiton). He wears the head of the lion over his own, with its front legs tied over his chest, pulled in by a belt at his waist. The lionskin is decorated with incised double lines to represent the fur. In his right hand he holds a sword; his left hand is obscured by Geryon’s shields. At Herakles’ feet and behind his left leg there is a man crouching down on his hands and knees. This is Eurytion, Geryon’s henchman, who seems to have already been dispatched by Herakles. He wears a red tunic under another garment which is tied with a red belt, and a wool cap of a kind which characterises him as a peasant. Opposite Herakles is Geryon, depicted as three overlapping warriors. Each wears greaves, a helmet, and a cuirass, and carries a shield with its outer band in red; two of the helmets overlap with the decorative frieze above, and may have been originally painted in red. The three figures stand in with their left legs forward in unison; the closest and farthest wear red greaves while the middle has black greaves, which helps visually differentiate these three pairs of legs with identical poses. The warrior closest to the viewer turns back, facing towards the right, revealing the interior of his shield, and holding a rock in his hand, rather than a true weapon, indicating his monstrous nature. The middle warrior faces Herakles to the left, and seems to hold a spear up pointing at the hero’s face. His shield once had a device of the front half of a horse painted in added white but this is now barely visible. Only the top of the far warrior’s helmet is visible behind the other figures; his shield can be seen behind the middle warrior’s shield, and he perhaps holds the spear of which a small part can be seen between the shields and the figure of Eurytion. At the bottom right of the scene, between the monster’s legs, is his two-headed dog Orthros, whose nearest head wears a collar and has its neck painted in added red. Mythologically, this dog is the offspring of Typhon and Echidna, and therefore is the brother of the three-headed dog Cerberus who guarded the underworld. On the other side: A nude warrior arming himself, watched by four figures. The warrior stands at the center, facing to the right, with red hair. He lifts up his left leg and holds a greave in front of it with both hands, about to put it on. On the ground below his left leg there is a crested helmet, with its added color worn off. To his left stand two male figures facing towards him; the leftmost is red-haired and bearded and wears a cloak around his lower half, with his chest exposed. The other figure is also red-haired and wears a cloak draped over his a long tunic. To the right of the warrior stands a woman, facing him and gesturing to him with her right hand. She wears a long belted dress (peplos) with incised decoration; the added color is lost. Her features are poorly preserved because her skin would have been painted with added white, which is lost. Behind her stands a bearded, red-haired nude male figure. The figures standing around the warrior may represent members of his family, farewelling him as he leaves for battle. Each figural scene is in a reserved panel bordered on top by a frieze of lotus and palmettes. There is a band of rays at the base of the body.

  • Knight, Death, and the Devil

    Knight, Death, and the Devil

  • Brahama Pays Homage to Krishna, folio from an album of the Bhagavata Purana (Ancient Stories of the Lord)

    Brahama Pays Homage to Krishna, folio from an album of the Bhagavata Purana (Ancient Stories of the Lord)

  • A Priest makes Offerings to Shrinathji at Jal Vihar (Water Sports Ceremony)

    A Priest makes Offerings to Shrinathji at Jal Vihar (Water Sports Ceremony)

    The priest is offering fire to Sri Nathji, an important local form of the god Krishna (Vishnu) and the focus of regional pilgimages to his shrine.

  • Courtier Raja Anup Rai Intercepting a Lion Attack, with  Mughal Emperor Jahangir and Prince Khurram, drawing (verso); Calligraphy (recto)

    Courtier Raja Anup Rai Intercepting a Lion Attack, with Mughal Emperor Jahangir and Prince Khurram, drawing (verso); Calligraphy (recto)

    The drawing depicts the Rajput nobleman and Mughal courtier Anup Rai, being attacked by a lion during a royal hunt. He is shown attempting to push the lion’s face away from his. Anup Rai was known as “Singh Dalan” (lion crusher), because he risked his life and intercepted a lion that was about to attack the Mughal emperor Jahangir (r. 1605-1627). The event took place on January 6, 1611. Jahangir is shown carrying his matchlock gun by the barrel and is about to strike the lion’s head with the butt of his gun. Prince Khurram, who later becomes the emperor Shah Jahan, raises a sword to deliver a blow to the lion’s back. .

  • Seated Sitatara (The White Tara)
  • Seated Green Tara
  • Emperor Jahangir and Gosain Jadrup, Folio from the St. Petersburg Muraqqa’
  • Four Naked Women
  • The Dream of the Doctor
  • Saint John before God and the Elders
  • The Little Courier
  • Rhinoceros
  • Adam and Eve
  • Column Krater (mixing bowl for wine and water): Symposium; Cavalcade
  • The Knight on Horseback and the Lansquenet
  • Forms of Vishnu, Kalamkari textile
  • Perspective View of Shin Yoshiwara in the Evening (Uki-e Shin Yoshiwara yūgure zu)
  • Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), also known as The Great Wave, from the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei)
  • Seven-Mile Beach in Sagami Province (Sōshū Shichiri-ga-hama), from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei)
  • Knight, Death and the Devil
  • The Four Riders of the Apocalypse
  • Portrait of Shah ‘Abbas I
  • Newly Published View of a Performance at Sakaichō (Shinpan tōto Sakaichō ōshibai no zu)
  • Seated Bodhisattva Târâ in her “Green Manifestation”
  • Two Pigeons
  • Calling of Saint John
  • Oinochoe (wine pitcher): Two Warriors in Combat; Hermes and Giant (?)
  • Melencolia I
  • The Witch
  • Saint Jerome in his Study
  • Recto: Prince Khurram and Companions Visit a Hindu Sage; verso: Poem 37 by Hafiz penned and signed by Mir `Imad al-Hasani
  • A Nath Yogi with Two White Dogs, folio from the Salim Album
  • Fighting Wild Horses in a Wood
  • Promenade
  • Saint Michael and the Dragon
  • Amphora (storage jar): Herakles Fighting Geryon; Arming of a Warrior
  • Knight, Death, and the Devil
  • Brahama Pays Homage to Krishna, folio from an album of the Bhagavata Purana (Ancient Stories of the Lord)
  • A Priest makes Offerings to Shrinathji at Jal Vihar (Water Sports Ceremony)
  • Courtier Raja Anup Rai Intercepting a Lion Attack, with  Mughal Emperor Jahangir and Prince Khurram, drawing (verso); Calligraphy (recto)
On View Locate on Floor Plan University Teaching Gallery, Harvard Art Museums

The Harvard course A Colloquium in the Visual Arts (Humanities 20) is an introduction to the study of the humanities through major works of art and architecture from around the world: everything from ancient Persian sculpture to modern stop-motion photography. The course is taught by five members of the Harvard faculty: Jinah Kim, Joseph Koerner, Yukio Lippit, Jennifer Roberts, and David Roxburgh, with guest lectures by Sarah Lewis and Robin Kelsey.

Each week, the students immerse themselves in the cultural and imaginary world of a single artwork. Following an expansive lecture on the work, the students gather in this gallery and other locations on campus for “looking labs,” in which they develop skills of close observation, description, and visual analysis.

The course teaches students what it means to engage deeply with an artwork, and how to think through an artwork about big questions in human culture: social justice, gender, modernity, religious belief, cross-cultural encounter, the nature of time, the relationship between art and science, and how different cultures have thought about life and death and the beginning and end of the world.

The University Teaching Gallery serves faculty and students affiliated with Harvard’s Department of History of Art and Architecture. Semester-long installations are mounted here in conjunction with undergraduate and graduate courses, supporting instruction in the critical analysis of art and making unique selections from the museums’ collections available to all visitors.

This installation is made possible by funding from the Gurel Student Exhibition Fund.