Throwback Thursdays Art – w/ Update!

Throwback Thursdays Art – w/ Update!

Every Thursday, as part of my personal “enriched environment” initiative, I post a piece of art, usually from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which recently released online some 400,000 high-resolution images of its collection.  All artwork will show a sun (or sunlight) somewhere. 

I won’t name the piece or the artist, but instead invite you to study the art and post a comment addressing one or more of these questions:

  • What is going on in this picture?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What more can you find?

If you have another idea, run with it.

Special Update!  The New York Times website does this same exercise every Monday with a news photo that is uncaptioned and contains no text (click!).  The Times asks viewers the same three questions:

  • What is going on in this picture?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What more can you find?

However, at the end of the week, the Times posts the background information on the picture.  So, I’ve decided to do the same.  I’ll still post an unlabeled piece of art on Thursday.  But return on Sunday (for the Sunny Sundays post!) and you’ll find an update on the artwork here.

Note:  To embiggen the image, click on it! 

The Door of a Grotto

Artist:  William Marlow (British, Southwark, London 1740/41–1813 Twickenham, London)

Date:  ca. 1765–66

Medium:  Watercolor and graphite

Classification:  Drawings


Marlow made this free watercolor sketch during a trip through France and Italy. Spontaneous brushwork and bright washes evoke strong sunlight playing across stone, contrasted with a shadowed recess covered by a rough wooden door. The artist’s travel likely was supported by the duchess of Northumberland, since Marlow later made many finished oils of Italian subjects for this English patroness. The freshness of the drawing is an early demonstration of watercolor’s expressive potential and anticipates groundbreaking innovations that would be made twenty years later by the British artists Thomas Jones and John Robert Cozens in Rome and Naples.

About The Author: Bruce


  1. Gabby

    THis is the summer home of my AUnt Gildred and Uncle Max. THey would enter it in late May / early June and remain inside until the hot season passed. They lived on a diet of earthworms, whirlygigs, slugs and would have a feast if ants started building a nest in the ceiling.

    When they emerged, usually after Labor Day, they always looked so refreshed, so thin and so young. Then for the fall and winter they were hedonists who lived in a water tank atop the Empire State Building.

  2. Inez

    This is so colorless.

  3. Chris Tempe

    Sun is off screen and to the left.

    I agree with Inez: this is so colorless. You’d expect at least the leaves on the tree to be green.

    The door, which I assume to be the focal point of our attention, is at the bottom of the screen, not in the middle, and it looks like the very bottom of the door is not in the frame at all.

    I wonder if this is a real scene somewhere, or just a fantasy in a folk tale.

    I wonder when this was painted, and I wonder if we have more fantasy in the popular imagination (for example, the Avengers movie series, the Batman movie series, Harry Potter, etc.) today than we did, say, 100 years ago.

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