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Smart Picture of the Day January 1–28, 2021

Smart pictures consist of photos, paintings or images selected for their historical, cultural, or artistic merit selected by Wikipedia contributors with informative text linking to articles.

January 28

Soldiers of the British Army use a wide range of equipment. This soldier of the Royal Highland Fusiliers in Afghanistan, seen here in front and rear views, is wearing full combat dress. The kit includes a Mk 7 combat helmet with a multi-terrain-pattern (MTP) cover and a mounted night-vision system with ballistic eye protection, an MTP under-body-armour combat shirt, Mk 4 MTP Osprey body armour with medical, ammunition and admin pouches, a personal role radio, a small-arms weapon system with advanced optical gun sight and underslung grenade launcher, pelvic protection, MTP trousers, knee pads and combat boots.

Photograph credit: Rupert Frere; cropped by Pine

January 27

Yellow badges are badges that Jews were ordered to wear in public during periods of the Middle Ages by the ruling Christians and Muslims, and in Nazi Germany in the 1940s. The badges served to mark the wearer as a religious or ethnic outsider, and often served as a badge of shame. This is a Belgian version of the yellow badge, with a black "J" on a yellow Star of David; from 1942, the wearing of such badges was compulsory for Jews in German-occupied Belgium. This badge was in the possession of Jos Kutner, born in 1911 in Antwerp, who inscribed his initials on it after the war. His father and brothers were deported from Belgium; none of them survived. The badge is in the collection of the Kazerne Dossin Memorial, Museum and Documentation Centre in Mechelen.

Photograph credit: Ronald Torfs

January 26

Gorky Park is a park in central Moscow, Russia, inaugurated in 1928 following the use of the site in 1923 for the First All-Russian Agricultural and Handicraft Industries Exhibition. The park was named after the writer and political activist Maxim Gorky. It underwent a major reconstruction in 2011; nearly all the amusement rides and other attractions were removed, extensive lawns and flower beds were created, and new roadways were laid. A 15,000 m2 (160,000 sq ft) ice rink was installed at the same time. This picture shows the colonnaded main portal of Gorky Park.

Photograph credit: Alexander Savin

January 25

Peter Tatchell (born 25 January 1952) is an Australian-born British campaigner, author, journalist and broadcaster who speaks out on various issues of human rights and social justice. His attempts to promote the enforcement of international human-rights law have included efforts to secure the prosecution of Henry Kissinger on war crimes, and he attempted a citizen's arrest of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe in 1999 and again in 2001.

Photograph credit: Colin

January 24

Walter Forward (January 24, 1786 – November 24, 1852) was an American lawyer and politician from Pennsylvania. From 1841 to 1843, he served as Secretary of the Treasury under President John Tyler. After leaving his cabinet post, he resumed the practice of law in Pittsburgh until 1849, when he was appointed chargé d'affaires to Denmark by President Zachary Taylor. Forward Township in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, is named after him. This line engraving of Forward was produced around 1902 by the Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) as part of a BEP presentation album of the first 42 secretaries of the treasury.

Engraving credit: Bureau of Engraving and Printing; restored by Andrew Shiva

January 23

The Vision of the Blessed Hermann Joseph is a 1629–1630 oil-on-canvas painting by the Flemish Baroque painter Anthony van Dyck. Hermann Joseph was a 12th- and 13th-century German canon regular and mystic whose status as a saint of the Catholic Church was formally recognized by Pope Pius XII in 1958. Legend relates that he had several visions of the Virgin Mary; this painting shows one such vision, in which he is joined in a mystic marriage to Mary, receiving the name Joseph after her spouse Saint Joseph. Produced for a chapel in Saint Ignatius Church in Antwerp, the painting now hangs in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

Painting credit: Anthony van Dyck

January 22

The sooty oystercatcher (Haematopus fuliginosus) is a species of wading bird endemic to Australia. It frequents the intertidal zone on sand, shingle or pebble beaches, mudflats, and saltflats. With a length of 42 to 52 cm (16.5 to 20.5 in), females are slightly larger than males, and have relatively longer beaks. The two sexes differ in their diets; females tend to select soft prey such as small fishes and crabs, bluebottle jellyfishes and sea squirts, which they can swallow whole, while males choose hard prey such as mussels, turban shells and periwinkles.

Photograph credit: John Harrison

January 21

Daniel McCallum (21 January 1815 – 27 December 1878) was a Scottish-born American railroad engineer, general manager of the New York and Erie Railroad, and a brevet major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He is known as one of the early pioneers of management; in 1855, he designed an illustrative organization chart of the New York and Erie Railroad, considered to be the first modern organizational chart. It provides a plan of the organization, showing the division of administrative responsibilities and the number and class of employees engaged in each department.

Photograph credit: Brady National Photographic Art Gallery; restored by Adam Cuerden

January 20

The Christchurch Art Gallery is the public art gallery of the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. Opened in 2003, it replaced the previous building, the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, which had opened 70 years earlier. Designed to withstand seismic events, the gallery's foundations rest on a concrete raft slab that lies on the surface of the ground. Nevertheless, the building sustained some damage in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake that devastated much of the city, and it subsequently served as the Civil Defence headquarters during reconstruction work.

Photograph credit: Michal Klajban

January 19

William de Leftwich Dodge (1867–1935) was an American artist best known for his murals, which were commissioned for both public and private buildings. He achieved early success with a mural adorning the interior of the dome of the administration building for the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World. This photograph shows part of the Zodiac mosaic designed by Dodge on the ceiling of the Surrogate's Courthouse in Manhattan, New York, originally known as the Hall of Records.

Mosaic credit: William de Leftwich Dodge; photographed by Rhododendrites

January 18

Sympetrum danae, the black darter or black meadowhawk, is a species of dragonfly found in northern Europe, Asia, and North America. Both sexes are black and yellow, but the abdomen of the male is largely black while that of the female is largely yellow. Breeding takes place in shallow acidic pools, lake margins and ditches in lowland heaths and moorland bogs. The female lays her eggs during flight by dipping the tip of her abdomen into the water. The eggs hatch the following spring, the larvae developing very rapidly and emerging as adults in as little as two months. The male seen here is perched on a frond of bracken on Warren Heath in Hampshire, England.

Photograph credit: Charles J. Sharp

January 17

Stitching the Standard is an oil-on-canvas painting by the English painter Edmund Leighton, who specialised in Regency and medieval subjects. Measuring 98 by 44 centimetres (39 by 17 in) and currently in a private collection, this is probably the work listed as The Device by Leighton's biographer Alfred Yockney among the paintings dating from 1911. Leighton's draughtsmanship and attention to detail were meticulous, and his work had a considerable influence on early filmmakers by providing his conception of the medieval world.

Painting credit: Edmund Leighton

January 16

The Danzig gulden was the currency of the Free City of Danzig (present-day Gdańsk, Poland) between 1923 and 1939. Inflation in Danzig during 1922 had spiralled out of control, and the city abandoned the German Papiermark in favour of the Danzig gulden the following year. The issuance of the new gulden was overseen by the Bank of Danzig, established in early 1924. The obverse of each note shows the city's coat of arms on the left and an important local architectural structure in the centre. This ten-gulden banknote, issued in 1930, bears an illustration of the Artus Court, previously a meeting place of merchants and a centre of social life, and now part of the Gdańsk History Museum.

Other denominations:

Banknote design credit: Bank of Danzig; photographed by Andrew Shiva

January 15

Loie Fuller (January 15, 1862 – January 1, 1928) was an American actress and dancer who was a pioneer of techniques in both modern dance and theatrical lighting. She created the serpentine dance, but upon finding that her talents were unappreciated in the United States, she moved to Paris and received a warm reception there. She regularly performed at the Folies Bergère, and began adapting and expanding her costume and lighting, so that they became the principal features of her performance. Fuller unsuccessfully applied for a patent on the serpentine dance, to prevent imitators from copying her choreography. This 1901 film, entitled Loie Fuller, shows another dancer performing the dance.

Film credit: Segundo de Chomón

January 14

A thermoplastic-sheathed cable consists of a toughened outer thermoplastic sheath of polyvinyl chloride, covering one or more individual annealed copper conductors. Each of the current-carrying conductors in the "core" is insulated by an individual thermoplastic sheath, coloured to indicate the purpose of the conductor concerned. The protective earth conductor may also be covered with insulation, although, in some countries, this conductor may be left as bare copper. The type of thermoplastic, the dimensions of the conductors and the colour of their individual insulation are specified by the regulatory bodies in the various countries concerned.

Photograph credit: Petar Milošević

January 13

Salmon P. Chase (January 13, 1808 – May 7, 1873) was an American politician and jurist who served as the sixth chief justice of the United States. He also served as the 23rd governor of Ohio and represented the state in the United States Senate. He served as the 25th secretary of the treasury, leading to his being featured on the last version of the U.S. ,000 bill. He sought the Republican nomination for president in the 1860 presidential election, but the party chose Abraham Lincoln at the national convention. This line engraving of Chase was produced around 1902 by the Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) as part of a BEP presentation album of the first 42 secretaries of the treasury.

Engraving credit: Bureau of Engraving and Printing; restored by Andrew Shiva

January 12

Venus with a Mirror is an oil-on-canvas painting created around 1555 by the Italian Renaissance painter Titian. The pose may have been inspired by the classical statues of the Venus de' Medici in Florence or the Capitoline Venus in Rome; the painting is said to celebrate the ideal beauty of the female form, or to be a critique of vanity, or perhaps both. X-ray analysis has revealed that it was painted over an earlier double portrait that Titian had abandoned. He kept the red cloak of one of the previous figures and placed it under Venus's arm. The use of the cloak from the earlier painting probably played a large part in the composition of the new work. The work is in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where it is considered to be one of the highlights of the collection.

Painting credit: Titian

January 11

Ptyas mucosa, the Indian rat snake, is a common species of colubrid snake found in parts of southern and southeastern Asia. Growing to a length of 1.5 to 1.9 m (5 to 6 ft), they are very slender, diurnal and semi-arboreal. They inhabit forest floors, wetlands, rice paddies, and farmland, and are frequently found in urban areas where rodents thrive. They are harmless to humans, but are fast-moving and adept at catching the small mammals, birds, amphibians and other reptiles on which they feed, subduing their prey by lying on and suffocating them.

Photograph credit: Augustus Binu

January 10

The Consummation of Empire is the third in a series of five oil-on-canvas paintings entitled The Course of Empire, created by the American artist Thomas Cole between 1833 and 1836. The series, now in the collection of the New-York Historical Society, depicts the growth and fall of an imaginary city, situated at the lower end of a river valley. In this painting, the rural village has become a magnificent city, with colonnaded structures reminiscent of ancient Rome. A victorious hero is crossing a bridge in procession and about to pass under a triumphal arch. The architecture and embellishments illustrate that wealth, power, knowledge, and taste have worked together to reach the summit of human achievement and empire.

Painting credit: Thomas Cole

January 9

This historical depiction of the coat of arms of Connecticut was illustrated by the American engraver Henry Mitchell in State Arms of the Union, published in 1876 by Louis Prang. The three grape vines on the shield may represent either the early towns of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield, or the three original colonies. An 1889 article by the state librarian stated: "The vines symbolize the Colony brought over and planted here in the wilderness. We read in the 80th Psalm: 'Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: Thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it' ... and the motto expresses our belief that He who brought over the vine continues to take care of it – Qui transtulit sustinet."

Illustration credit: Henry Mitchell; restored by Andrew Shiva

January 8

Dallol is a cinder-cone volcano in the Danakil Depression, northeast of the Erta Ale Range in Ethiopia. The area lies up to 120 m (390 ft) below sea level, and has been repeatedly flooded in the past when waters from the Red Sea have inundated it. The Danakil Depression is one of the hottest places on Earth, and the evaporation of seawater after these flooding episodes produced thick deposits of salt, as seen in this landscape. The deposits at Dallol include significant quantities of the carbonate, sulfate and chloride salts of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Hot springs discharge brine to form the blueish ponds, and small, temporary geysers produce cones of salt.

Photograph credit: Alexander Savin

January 7

Millard Fillmore (January 7, 1800 – March 8, 1874) was the 13th president of the United States, succeeding to the presidency in July 1850 upon the death of the incumbent Zachary Taylor. Born into poverty with little formal education, he became a successful attorney and was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1832. Never an advocate of slavery, he felt duty-bound as president to support the Compromise of 1850 that defused a political confrontation between slave and free states. He sought election to a full term in 1852, but was passed over by the Whigs in favor of Winfield Scott. This line engraving of Fillmore was produced around 1902 by the Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) as part of a BEP presentation album of the first 26 presidents.

Engraving credit: Bureau of Engraving and Printing; restored by Andrew Shiva

January 6

The Adoration of the Kings is an oil-on-panel painting depicting the scene of the Magi adoring the infant Jesus at the stable in Bethlehem, as related in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. It was painted by the Netherlandish Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1564, and is now in the National Gallery, London. The painting treats the biblical episode in an unconventional manner; the onlookers are crowded around the mother and child, with everyone warmly clad except for Jesus himself. The Magi are depicted richly dressed but somewhat dishevelled, the soldiers are menacing, and the onlookers appear bewildered. The figures are slightly elongated, their faces caricatured or even grotesque, while Mary is shown natural and unidealised.

Painting credit: Pieter Bruegel the Elder

January 5

Shah Jahan (5 January 1592 – 22 January 1666) was the fifth Mughal emperor, reigning from 1628 to 1658. Under his rule, the Mughal Empire reached the peak of its cultural glory. He commissioned many monuments, the best known of which is the Taj Mahal in Agra, in which his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, is entombed. This rosette, or shamsa (sunburst), executed in ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper, forms the frontispiece to the Kevorkian Album, a muraqqa compiled by Shah Jahan, and bears his names and titles. The Arabic tughra inscription in the center translates to: "His Majesty Shihab ud-Din Muhammad Shah Jahan, the King, Warrior of the Faith, may God perpetuate his dominion and sovereignty".

Illustration credit: unknown

January 4

The yellow-faced honeyeater (Caligavis chrysops) is a small-to-medium-sized bird in the honeyeater family, Meliphagidae, native to southeastern Australia. Its typical habitat is open sclerophyll forests, as well as woodland, riparian corridors, parks, orchards and gardens. Although some populations are resident, others migrate, using geomagnetic fields to navigate. Comparatively short-billed for a honeyeater, it has adapted to a mixed diet including nectar, pollen, fruit, seeds, honeydew, and insects. It is considered a pest in some areas because of the damage it does to fruit in orchards and urban gardens. This yellow-faced honeyeater was photographed near Lake Parramatta in New South Wales.

Photograph credit: John Harrison

January 3

Hendrik van de Sande Bakhuyzen (1795–1860) was a 19th-century Dutch landscape painter and art teacher. He was a prominent contributor to the Romantic period in Dutch art, and his students and children founded the art movement known as the Hague School. He is known for his pastoral scenes (especially paintings of livestock) with detailed landscapes, notably inspired by Golden Age artist Paulus Potter and continuing the Realist tradition of that era. This oil-on-panel self-portrait by Van de Sande Bakhuyzen dates from 1850, and is in the collection of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Painting credit: Hendrik van de Sande Bakhuyzen

January 2

Priscilla Horton (2 January 1818 – 18 March 1895), was a popular English singer and actress. She was a favourite of James Planché, Charles Dickens and Madame Vestris, and a mentor to W. S. Gilbert. Horton was known for her agile dancing and clear contralto singing voice. This drawing depicts Horton in the role of Ariel in the final scene of Act 5 of Shakespeare's play The Tempest in 1838. Having married the theatrical manager Thomas German Reed in 1844, the pair presented and performed in "Mr. and Mrs. German Reed's Entertainments", consisting of brief, small-scale, family-friendly comic operas, which served to improve the opinion of theatre amongst the British public (it was widely considered a den of immorality at the time). The first professional production of Arthur Sullivan's comic opera Cox and Box was one of their entertainments.

Drawing credit: Richard James Lane; restored by Adam Cuerden

January 1

A still life is a work of art depicting inanimate subject matter, typically either natural things such as flowers, dead animals, food, rocks or shells, or man-made objects. As a genre, still-life painting began with Netherlandish painting in the 16th and 17th centuries. The wealthy Dutch Empire's trade enabled the importation of spices, sugar and exotic fruits into the country, and new ingredients such as dates, rice, cinnamon, ginger, nuts, and saffron became available. This oil-on-panel still life from the 1620s by the Flemish artist Osias Beert is entitled Dishes with Oysters, Fruit, and Wine, and includes a rare early depiction of sugar in art. The painting now hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Painting credit: Osias Beert

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