Art: For Whom the Bell Tolls

As any comic-strip artist knows, violence is a hard thing to picture convincingly. To make mayhem clear, the comics fall back on such arbitrary and unrealistic conventions as lines trailing from fists, stars suspended at the point of contact, and words like CRASH and POW floating overhead. The Persians were more subtle.

Harvard's Fogg Art Museum owns a fine example which probably dates from the 15th Century—a drawing of a Persian cavalier happily bashing his enemy with a mace. The drawing is done with almost feminine delicacy, and without any tricks. In the Fogg's current Bulletin, Scholar Eric Schroeder...

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