1. Portrait of Mrs Edward L. Davis and Her Son, Livingston Davis

John Singer Sargent (1856–1925) was a gifted East Coast society portrait painter. This 1890 work blends loose brushwork (the boy) with stark realism (his mother).

2. Standing Warrior

Standing about 3-ft (1-m) tall, this figure of a king or warrior is the largest-known effigy from western Mexico. It dates from between 200 BC and AD 300.

3. Eagle-Headed Deity

Ancient Syrian palaces were often decorated with intricately carved-stone slabs. This one depicts a deity in the process of fertilizing a tree by scattering pollen from a pail.

4. The Magdalen with the Smoking Flame

French Baroque artist Georges de La Tour (1593–1652) employs deep contrasts ...

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