The Arnolfini Portrait (1434) by Jan van Eyck is considered one of the most original and complex paintings in Western art history. It depicts a wealthy merchant, long thought to be Giovanni Arnolfini, and his wife. The incredible detail, realism, and use of light make this work remarkable, but it also stands out for the debate that it has inspired over the symbolism of certain elements, including the one lit candle in the chandelier, van Eyck's unusually placed signature, and what else?
Back in the day
On May 16, 1877—le Seize Mai—French Republic president Marie MacMahon, a monarchist, attempted to rescue the monarchical cause by dismissing the republican prime minister and replacing him with a monarchist leader and cabinet. When the Chamber of Deputies rejected the new government, MacMahon dissolved parliament and ordered new elections, precipitating a crisis. His efforts spectacularly backfired, however, when the republicans triumphantly returned to government through what means?
Born on a day like today
Liberace began playing piano at the age of 4, and by 16, he had appeared as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He soon began giving concerts in flamboyant costumes with ornate pianos, and though he occasionally performed with symphony orchestras, he built his career primarily upon popular music. Hugely successful, he hosted a television variety series, and, in later years, performed frequently in Las Vegas. During what decades was he said to be the world's highest paid entertainer?