Ilya Repin – Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan (1885)

I was watching The Last Czars docuseries about the demise of the Romanov family, when it dawned on me that tragedies and revolutions do not happen overnight. Rather they’re the culmination of a series of unfortunate decisions trickling into ever larger events. We stumble our way through history not with reason and judgment, but with…

Zdzisław Beksiński – Untitled (1984)

“You could hear the shrieks of women, the wailing of infants, and the shouting of men”, wrote Roman magistrate and writer Pliny the Younger in a letter to historian Tacitus, recalling the tragedy that hit the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the fall of 79 AD. Then, a roaring Mount Vesuvius erupted and pulverized…

Konstantin Makovsky – The Kissing Ceremony (1895)

No one knows exactly how kissing came about, whether it was instinctive or learned behavior, yet its influence is hard to overstate. From greetings to displays of affection, signing papers (seal with a kiss) and marriage pronouncements, New Year’s celebrations and religious traditions, kissing has been part of many cultures for the longest time. And…