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Trivium is a free art history platform. Dig in, and explore 40,000 years of creativity.

Bust of Five-Headed Shiva, 950

Marcel Duchamp's readymades were sculptural assemblages of found objects, often created as jokes, visual puns, or as with the 'Bicycle Wheel' — for the simple pleasure of the juxtaposition.

DadaReadymadeFurniture

Bicycle WheelMarcel Duchamp, 1913

We don’t know who created this vivid, otherworldly portrait, but its subject is Guan Yu, descending from heaven. Guan was a Han dynasty warrior who died in 219 CE, and posthumously elevated to the status of Emperor. Guan became a venerated symbol of courage and faithfullness, honored by the Manchu rulers in shrines throughout China. 

Qing DynastyRulersClouds

Emperor Guan1700

In 1797 Francisco Goya created 80 etchings that laid out a scathing critique of pre-enlightenment Spain, illustrating the damaging effects of superstition, arraigned marriage, and a wasteful ruling class.

RomanticismDemonsSleepMonstersAllegory

The Sleep Of Reason Produces MonstersFrancisco de Goya y Lucientes, 1799

Alexander Pope was a satirist, whose biting verse skewered the romantic ideals of 18th century English the high-society. In 1712, he published a mock-epic poem entitled "The Rape of the Lock" in which a lock of a woman's hair is stolen by an admirer, and the incident is embellished into a drama parodying Homer's Iliad.

Art NouveauHorrorGrotesque

The Cave of SpleenAubrey Beardsley, 1896

Every class has its clown. Joseph Ducreux worked alongside the great Neoclassical painters Vigée Le Brun and Jacques-Louis David, but his work sparks with humor and weird energy. This self-portrait from 1793 is still phresh enough to generate a meme: ‘Gentlemen, who hath released the hounds?’

NeoclassicismSelf-portraits

Self-portrait in the Guise of a MockingbirdJoseph Ducreux, 1791

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