Like this one in Brussels, designed by Ernest Delune in 1893 for the house of a famous glass maker.
And there are plenty more just like it...
Art Nouveau was a movement that appeared in Belgium in the 1890s — it might just be the best thing Belgium has ever done for the world.
Hence much of the best Art Nouveau architecture (and doorways) are in Belgium.
Like this one in Antwerp:
Feb 29 • 21 tweets • 6 min read
Why the hell does February sometimes get an extra day? And why is it shorter than the other months, anyway?
It's all because of what Julius Caesar did 2,070 years ago in 46 BC.
What's special about 46 BC? It had 445 days, making it the longest year in history...
But the story begins in 753 BC, when Rome was founded by the mythical Romulus.
Romulus was credited with creating the first Roman calendar.
It had ten months, each of 30 or 31 days, beginning in Martius and ending in December.
Feb 28 • 23 tweets • 9 min read
A little history of Big Ben...
It is the night of the 16th October 1834.
A fire breaks out at the Palace of Westminster, a vast complex of Medieval buildings where the British Parliament — the House of Commons and the House of Lords — has been meeting for centuries.
JMW Turner painted the blaze.
Feb 27 • 20 tweets • 9 min read
Every self-portrait Vincent van Gogh ever painted:
And Frida Kahlo — not all her self portraits, but some of them:
Feb 26 • 19 tweets • 8 min read
One small way architecture has changed is that we no longer build houses with chimneys.
It's an interesting example of how technology doesn't only change the way the world works, but also how it looks...
How did people keep warm before the invention of modern central heating or air conditioning?
With fire, of course — a fireplace in the home, burning coal or wood.
That was how we did it for all of human history until the last hundred years or so.
Feb 24 • 25 tweets • 8 min read
People associate the USA with cars, not trains.
But it used to have some of the world's greatest train stations — only now they've all been demolished, including every single building in this image.
This is the story of America's lost train stations...
The USA is home to plenty of wonderful train stations.
The most famous of which is, of course, New York's Grand Central:
Feb 22 • 23 tweets • 9 min read
The Taj Mahal is wonderful, but it isn't unique.
So here's an introduction to Mughal Architecture...
The Mughal Empire was established in 1526 by a man called Babur, descended from both Genghis Khan and Timur; Babur came down from Central Asia and invaded Northern India.
At its greatest extent the Mughal Empire covered vast swathes of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
Feb 21 • 25 tweets • 9 min read
If you like the countryside then you will love John Constable.
He was probably the most boring landscape painter in history — and that's why he was one of the best...
There have been many landscape painters, many different ways to paint a given landscape, and many different kinds of landscape.
Take Albert Bierstadt with his vast, glittering, dramatic, almost photorealistic paintings of the American wilderness.
Feb 19 • 25 tweets • 9 min read
You might not have seen it before, but this is the world's 4th tallest building.
It's the Makkah Clock Royal Tower, built ten years ago in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
And it's not the only megastructure you probably haven't heard of...
The Makkah Clock Royal Tower is the tallest of a complex of seven buildings called the Clock Towers.
It was built on the site of an old Ottoman fortress right next to the Masjid al-Haram, to provide hotels and other services for pilgrims travelling to Mecca for Hajj.
Feb 18 • 20 tweets • 8 min read
What does Satan look like?
Strange, disturbing, and unintentionally funny: this is a brief history of the Devil in art...
The Garden of Earthly Delights, painted by Hieronymus Bosch at the beginning of the 16th century, is probably the most famous portrayal of Hell in art.
What's most striking about it is that Bosch does not just portray the Devil as evil — here he is utterly insane.
Feb 16 • 21 tweets • 7 min read
Maybe all architecture looks the same now, but 2,000 years ago it all looked pretty similar too...
For centuries the forces of technology, religion, colonialism, economics, style, and practicality have conspired to create regionally, continentally, and even globally homogenous styles.
The Ottomans built things in the same way right across their empire:
Feb 14 • 25 tweets • 10 min read
A little history of Gustav Klimt's Kiss...
Gustav Klimt is usually described as a Symbolist.
Symbolism was a broad artistic movement which emerged in Europe in the late 19th century.
It included not only art but poetry, literature, theatre, and music — and it took on different forms all across the continent.
Feb 12 • 25 tweets • 11 min read
This photo is 113 years old.
It was taken by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, an early pioneer of colour photography.
If you've ever wondered what the world used to look like, Prokudin-Gorsky's photos will show you...
Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky was born to an aristocratic family in rural Russia in 1863.
He studied chemistry in St Petersburg under the creator of the periodic table, Dmitri Mendeleev, and also took art classes.
And he combined these two passions by devoting himself to photography.
Feb 10 • 21 tweets • 10 min read
What was going on with Medieval gargoyles?
A "grotesque" is any sculpture of a face or creature on a building, and a "gargoyle" is one used as a waterspout.
Grotesques or gargoyles aren't unique to the Gothic Architecture of the European Middle Ages — there are similar traditions in Chinese and Indian architecture.
Feb 9 • 25 tweets • 9 min read
There's more to the Renaissance than Michelangelo.
So here's an introduction to the delightful worlds of Sandro Botticelli...
Alessandro Filipepi was born in Florence in 1445, right when the Italian Renaissance was bursting into life.
As a child he showed immense natural talent and was accordingly apprenticed to a goldsmith called Botticelli.
That's where Sandro got the name we know him by.
Feb 7 • 19 tweets • 6 min read
The Library of Alexandria isn't the only library lost to time.
There was also the "House of Wisdom", built 1,000 years ago in Baghdad when it was the world's largest city.
What did it contain? What happened to it? This is the story of history's other great library...
The world changed in the 7th century.
A new religion emerged in the Arabian Peninsula — Islam — and within a century its followers had conquered half the known-world.
Never before in history had such a vast conquest been carried out so quickly.
Feb 6 • 25 tweets • 10 min read
A brief introduction to Salvador Dalí...
Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech was born in Catalunya in 1904.
Two events shaped his youth: the death of an older brother he never knew, also called Salvador, and the death of his mother when Dalí was just sixteen.
They stayed with him throughout his life.
Feb 4 • 23 tweets • 12 min read
This is the Lonely Castle, a 2,000 year old tomb in Hegra, an ancient city in Saudi Arabia.
It's a perfect example of "rock-cut architecture" — when you carve a whole building out of stone.
And there are plenty more places like it, all around the world...
There is something instinctively awe-inspiring about rock-cut architecture.
To carve a building out the living stone of the earth feels elemental.
Nothing artificial here, only solid rock. Everything is part of one great whole. Monolithic, ancient, mysterious.
Feb 3 • 24 tweets • 13 min read
There's more to art than the Mona Lisa.
If you're interested in art but not sure where to start, here are some ideas...
People who already know about art forget that artspeak is off-putting to people who don't.
All these "isms" sound like gibberish, and most of the time they are!
So forget everything you think you know about art — and whatever you think you're "supposed" to say about it.
Feb 2 • 25 tweets • 11 min read
A little tour through the impossible and mind-bending worlds of M.C. Escher...
Maurits Cornelis Escher was born in the Netherlands in 1898 and wanted to be an architect — a recurring theme of his art.
And that's what he studied before transferring to the decorative arts.
He moved to Rome but left in 1935 and returned home via Switzerland and Belgium.
Jan 31 • 19 tweets • 9 min read
A Brief History of Staircases — and why they don't have to be boring...
We do have elevators and ramps — necessary both for accessibility and for getting to the top of a twenty-story tower — but stairs are always necessary.
We have been building them since we first started building and we will keep building them until the end of human civilisation.