From the Collection: Watercolor Paintings

Today we’re sharing a random assortment of beautiful watercolor paintings from the collection by artists from around the world:

2001_299The Queen of Spades by Russian artist Mstislav Valerianovich Dobuzhinskii (Doboujinsky), 1931

1961-138Olive Trees in the Garden of Gethsemane by British artist Edward Lear, 1858

1979-104Garden Scene by French artist Horace Castelli, 1860

1977-45Village Scene by German artist Gerhardt Wilhelm von Reutern, July 1827

1953-17Avignon by American artist Ogden M. Pleissner

image sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5


Monday Morning Muse: Empress Octacilia

This ancient marble sculpture of Roman Empress Octacilia from the 3rd century A.D. joined the Mead’s collection in 1941.


“Marcia Otacilia Severa or Otacilia Severa was the Empress of Rome and wife of Emperor Marcus Julius Philippus, or Philip the Arab, who reigned over the Roman Empire from 244 to 249. Severa and Philip are generally considered as the first Christian imperial couple, because during their reign the persecutions of Christians had ceased and the couple had become tolerant towards Christianism. It was through her intervention, for instance, that Bishop and Saint Babylas of Antioch was saved from persecution.” (source)

image source: Empress Octacilia



Monday Morning Muse: She’s Got the Point

This charcoal drawing by American artist John Sloan joined the collection in 1954.


John Sloan first studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and then with Robert Henri, before becoming an illustrator for Philadelphia newspapers. He moved to New York in 1902 where he taught at the Art Students League and was affiliated with The Eight. In 1910 he joined the socialist party, and was the art editor of a radical journal called The Masses. Like his colleagues, Sloan was concerned with social issues as he chronicled life in New York. He was particularly interested in the women’s suffragette movement as this lively drawing, “She’s Got the Point,” demonstrates. In this charcoal, Sloan recounts a particularly stirring moment at a rally held by the Women’s Suffragette Party. The image appeared in the October 1913 issue of The Masses.

The Mead holds many works by Sloan, including the following “Self-Portrait” and “Robert Henri Painting a Portrait.”



image sources: 1 / 2 / 3

From The Collection: Feejee Mermaid


Manufactured since the seventeenth century from desiccated ape, orangutan, and fish components by tricksters who passed them off as real dried specimens, Feejee mermaids gained notoriety in the nineteenth century. One celebrated example took London by storm in 1822, before P. T. Barnum acquired it in 1842 and toured it first in the northeastern, and later in the southern, United States.

In his accompanying pamphlet A Short History of Mermaids, Barnum capitalized on the popularity of mermaid-type exhibitions in fairs, circuses, and sideshows, which sometimes featured people afflicted with sirenomelia (a congenital condition that fuses the legs) or dugong (aquatic South Pacific mammals related to manatees). Spectators who purchased tickets to any such live or preserved mermaid display must have been surprised by the exhibits’ lack of resemblance to the bare-breasted beauties illustrated in the advertisements.

Long after science disproved the possibility of such a fish-mammal hybrid, the compelling figure of the Feejee mermaid has survived in the popular imagination, most recently in the television series The X-Files and in the 2003 horror film House of 1000 Corpses. The Mead’s Feejee mermaid (pictured here) was featured in an episode of Mysteries at the Museum on the Travel Channel.


image source: Feejee Mermaid

Monday Morning Muse: Mermaid

This woodblock print by Japanese artist Tejima Keizaburō joined the collection in 2010.


Tejima Keizaburō was born and educated in Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s four main islands. Both in Japan and internationally, he is a beloved author and illustrator of children’s books, including “Owl Lake,” “Fox’s Dream,” and “Woodpecker Forest.” His woodcut technique lends itself to the rustic natural settings of the stories, all of which take place in the wilds of Hokkaido and feature animals as their protagonists. With this print, Tejima has turned his eye and chisel to the figure of a mermaid, making it unusual for his oeuvre. He possibly drew inspiration for this print from Hans Christian Andersen’s “Little Mermaid,” in light of the tale’s popularity in Japan and the pose of the central figure, which is reminiscent of the famous statue by Edvard Eriksen in Copenhagen’s harbor.

image source: Mermaid (edition 6/50)

From the Collection: Photographs by Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons

Cuban artist Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons created this work – titled Voyeurs & Beholders of . . . – in response to the Iraq War. “When I see what is going on in the world, I feel like crying,” she said in a 2008 interview.

Pons 1

Voyeurs & Beholders of . . . is made up of five photographs in which Campos-Pons subtly confronts the viewer with issues of gender and race. She has outlined the large eyes in the foreground with long strands of frizzy black hair, which reflects her own concern with the voyeuristic perception of women—especially black women. The absence of faces, however, makes the eyes ambivalent. While hair and crying conventionally suggest the “weaker sex,” the act of watching—of being a voyeur—has traditionally masculine connotations.

Pons 2

Voyeurs & Beholders of . . . is on view in the exhibition New Arrivals: Modern and Contemporary Additions to the Collection through June 29.

image sources: 1 / 2

Photographs by Frank Paulin

The following photographs by American artist and photographer Frank Paulin joined the Mead’s collection in 2010.

2010-14Woman with Arms Crossed, Ridgefield, New Jersey, July 4, 1980

2010-03Carousel, New Orleans, 1952 (printed later)

2010-05Girl on Steps, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1952

“My interest in photography developed during World War II, when I spent two years in the Signal Corps in Europe, and wandered through the ruins of bombed cities… Following the war, I enrolled at the Chicago Institute of Design where Harry Callahan, Arthur Siegel and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy were among my instructors… My talent for drawing served me well while allowing time to pursue photography, what I really loved most. I also worked for some time as a fashion photographer, but preferred wandering the streets of American and European cities, especially those of New York City and Paris, taking pictures of people doing ordinary things, seeking discovery on every corner.” –Frank Paulin,

To see more works from the collection by Frank Paulin, click here.

image sources: 1 / 2 / 3