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A taste of the Huntington’s blog, Verso

 

More Than Meets the Eyes

Henry Fuseli (1741-1825), The Three Witches

 

The Huntington’s The Three Witches (also known as The Weird Sisters), by Anglo-Swiss painter Henry Fuseli (1741–1825), appears to be a finished, full-size study for one of the artist’s best-known compositions. The painting depicts the pivotal moment in Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth when the protagonist encounters a demonic trio of witches who foretell his fate: “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” The Huntington’s paintings conservator, Christina O’Connell, cleaned the painting soon after its arrival, stabilizing some flaking paint and removing layers of dirt and discolored varnish. During the cleaning process, a surprise emerged: in the upper left corner, she found a small red moon-like shape. She has lots of questions about this mysterious moon, including whether it was intended as part of The Three Witches, or if it was part of an earlier canvas that was reused.

 

With a Wave of Her Wand…

Aloe: Jeff Karsner

 

As The Huntington’s propagator of succulent plants, Karen Zimmerman has had amazing success breeding striking, jagged-toothed specimens of aloe hybrids permeated with red, orange, or yellow that produce delectable contrasts with the aloes’ green to bluish-green leaves. To generate a hybrid, Zimmerman takes the pollen from one aloe—using the tip of her finger or a pencil—and applies it to the stigma of another. Then she waits for the pods to ripen, collects the seeds, and grows them to see what she’s bred. She applies a cultivar name only to plants that achieve the characteristics she’s after. Often, if a plant merits a name, it’s distributed through The Huntington’s International Succulent Introductions (ISI) program. Started in 1958 and incorporated into The Huntington in 1989, ISI propagates and sells new or rare succulents to collectors, nurseries, and institutions. So far, Zimmerman has developed nine spectacular aloe hybrids for ISI.

 

Culture à La Carte

Discovery Cart Lanterns

 

You’re walking in the Chinese Garden. First you hear wheels crunching over gravel, and then you see a curious red-and-cream box approach. The intricate lattice design of the cart invites you to peek inside, but the fiery red sides shield its contents. What is this contraption? A food cart with Asian-inspired treats? Guess again. When you open this peculiar box, you get a glimpse into the complex culture of China. The Chinese Garden Discovery Cart is the newest incarnation of a long-standing Huntington tradition—mobile interactive exhibits that focus on the theme of a particular garden. The activities on the cart include making Chinese paper lanterns and Beijing opera masks, using brush pens to practice Chinese calligraphy, and exploring a Chinese apothecary box.

 

Newton’s Lost Works, Found

Newton's Copy of Mede's Works (1672)

 

One Friday afternoon in the Ahmanson Reading Room, Stephen Snobelen, a Dibner Research Fellow in the History of Science and Technology at The Huntington, suddenly realized he had discovered a lost book that once belonged to the famous physicist Isaac Newton. Joseph Mede’s Works (1672)—a 1,000-page book of exceptional erudition on biblical prophecy written in English, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew—served as a major inspiration for Newton, who wrote extensively about biblical prophecy and adopted Mede’s historicist interpretation of the Apocalypse. The discovery helps to strengthen Snobelen’s argument that, despite the common myth, Newton did not believe in a clockwork universe but held to a dynamic cosmology similar to, and perhaps informed by, the arrow of time Newton encountered in biblical prophecy and Mede’s writings.

 

For more on these and other stories, visit
VERSO

 

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About The Huntington

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution established in 1919 by Henry E. and Arabella Huntington. Henry Huntington, a key figure in the...

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