Masterpiece Minute Podcast

This 60-second weekly podcast series shares the fascinating story, historical context, and significance behind important works in the SDMA collection.

Drop in every Friday at 10:00 a.m. for a new episode on the SDMA app or embedded below.


Rembrandt van Rijn. Self-portrait, ca. 1628. Oil on panel. Loan from the Rijksmuseum. Purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt, the Stichting tot Bevordering van de Belangen van het Rijksmuseum and the ministerie van CRM.

Episode 31: Self-portrait, ca. 1628 by Rembrandt

How and why did Rembrandt create this and other self-portraits? Be drawn in by this early self-portrait depicting the artist at around 22 years of age, considered by some to be Rembrandt’s first great self-portrait, and hear how he demonstrated his early mastery and willingness to experiment in this week’s Masterpiece Minute podcast.

Listen now:

Listen to “Episode 31 – Masterpiece Minute Podcast” on Spreaker.

View Self-portrait, ca. 1628 by Rembrandt online.

Bowl with epigraphic design, Iran, 10th century. Earthenware, white slip with brownish-black slip decoration under a transparent glaze. Gift of the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection. 2006.213.

Episode 30: Bowl with epigraphic design, 10th century Iran

What is the meaning of the designs on this bowl? Travel to 10th century Iran in this week’s Masterpiece Minute podcast and discover the hidden message on this slip-painted bowl with calligraphic decoration. Hear how the distinct look of this piece was achieved, what the calligraphy communicates, and how epigraphic wares such as this reflect a cultural revival of the time and region.

Listen now:

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View Bowl with epigraphic design, 10th century online.

Read along in Masterpiece Minute Ep. 30 PDF.

Marisol (AKA Marisol Escobar; Maria Sol Escobar). Pocahontas (1976). Lithograph. Gift of Laurence and Marsha Saben. 2002.201.

Episode 29: Pocahontas by Marisol

Take a fresh look at a classic portrait of Matoaka, popularly known as Pocahontas. Explore how this 1976 portrait by Marisol, titled Pocahontas, compares to the 1616 Dutch print of the same name by Simon van de Passe. Both works in the SDMA permanent collection feature the same historical figure, but listen along to hear how Marisol updates the portrait to also reflect Matoaka’s indigenous roots. 

Listen now:

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View Pocahontas by Marisol online.

Read along in the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 29 PDF.

Ram Singh on an elephant, India, ca. 1850. Ink and watercolor on paper. Edwin Binney 3rd Collection, 1990.734.

Episode 28: Ram Singh on an elephant

Join the royal procession and discover the meaning of this portrait of Maharao Ram Singh II, Rajput ruler of the Rajasthani kingdom of Kota in modern-day India from 1827 to 1866. Plus, hear the clues Ram Singh on an elephant provides about how paintings were conceived, completed, and copied at court.

Listen now:

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View Ram Singh on an elephant online.

Read along in the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 28 PDF.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Saint Bartholomew, 1657. Oil on canvas. Putnam Foundation, Timken Museum of Art.

Episode 27: Saint Bartholomew by Rembrandt

A special long-term loan from the Timken Museum of Art, Saint Bartholomew, painted in 1657, is one of the most important works from the final phase of Rembrandt’s career. Hear about the significance of this work, how Rembrandt uses light to reflect emotion, and why Saint Bartholomew is depicted holding a knife.

Listen now:

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View Rembrandt’s Saint Bartholomew online.

Read along in the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 27 PDF.

An African elephant and mahout, drawing mounted on a detached album folio. India, Deccan, Tamil Nadu, Thanjavur, ca. 1700–05. Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper. Edwin Binney 3rd Collection, 1990.505.

Episode 26: An African elephant and mahout

How did a portrait of an African elephant and its mahout, or caretaker, come to be drawn at Mughal Indian court? Hear the story behind this rare drawing and hear how it has been tied with an Italian doctor and arts patron known to have spent time at the Mughal Indian court.

Listen now:

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View An African elephant and mahout online.

Read along in the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 26 PDF.

Charles Burchfield. Rainy Night, 1929-1930. Watercolor over graphite on paper. Gift of Anne R. and Amy Putnam. 1939.97.

Episode 25: Rainy Night by Charles Burchfield

Journey back in time to Buffalo, New York in 1929 in this episode of the Masterpiece Minute podcast. Hear what inspired American watercolorist Charles Burchfield’s Rainy Night and his reaction upon hearing that the painting was purchased by The San Diego Museum of Art.

Listen now:

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View Charles Burchfield’s Rainy Night, online.

Read along in the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 25 PDF.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. Self-Portrait, Etching at a Window, 1648. Etching. Museum purchase with funds provided by the Helen M. Towle Bequest. 1947.64.d.

Episode 24: Self Portrait, Etching at a Window by Rembrandt

Explore the best-known etching self-portrait by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, or simply Rembrandt, in this week’s Masterpiece Minute podcast episode. Hear how prints such as Self Portrait, Etching at a Window helped bolster Rembrandt’s fame, and learn how Rembrandt experimented with the process.

Listen now:

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View Rembrandt’s Self Portrait, Etching at a Window, online.

Read along in the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 24 PDF.

Pedro de Mena. San Diego de Alcalá, ca. 1665-1670. Polychromed wood and glass. Museum Purchase with Funds from the Estate of Donald Shira and from Anne Otterson. 2012.77.a-b.

Episode 23: San Diego de Alcalá by Pedro de Mena

How did sculptors make this and similar seventeenth-century Spanish statues look so realistic? Learn about Spain’s highly naturalistic sculpture style and how it is shown in this sculpture, San Diego de Alcalá by Pedro de Mena, in this episode of the Museum’s Masterpiece Minute podcast.

Listen now:

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View Pedro de Mena’s San Diego de Alcalá, online.

Read along in the Masterpiece Minute Episode 23 PDF.

Pompeo Batoni. Étienne-René Cardinal Potier de Gesvres,1758. Oil on canvas. Museum purchase. 1983.7.

Episode 22: Étienne-René Cardinal Potier de Gesvres by Pompeo Batoni

This eighteenth-century Roman portrait, Étienne-René Cardinal Potier de Gesvres by Pompeo Batoni, has a history of deception and redemption tied to World War II. Hear its story, including how it was rescued by the Allied officers of the famed Monuments Men division.

Listen now:

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View Pompeo Batoni’s Étienne-René Cardinal Potier de Gesvres online.

Read along in the Masterpiece Minute Episode 22 PDF.

Basin or Charger, 16th century. Earthenware, painted in luster over an opaque white glaze. Gift of Edwin Binney 3rd. 1971.73.

Episode 21: Basin or Charger, 16th century Spain

What makes this large serving dish shine and how did the trade secret travel from medieval Iraq to 16th century Spain and beyond? Learn about the fascinating history of this closely guarded technique, called luster, in this Masterpiece Minute podcast episode.

Listen now:

Listen to “Episode 21 – Masterpiece Minute Podcast” on Spreaker.

View Basin or Charger, 16th century online.

Read along in the Masterpiece Minute Episode 21 PDF.

José Agustín Arrieta. Still Life,  ca. 1870. Oil on canvas. Museum purchase with funds provided by Dean and Mrs. Michael H. Dessent and the Latin American Arts Committee. 2001.17.

Episode 20: Still Life by José Agustín Arrieta

Visit Mexico and hear how José Agustín Arrieta reinvented still life painting in the region with works including this masterpiece, titled Still Life.

Listen now:

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View José Agustín Arrieta’s Still Life online.

Read along in the Masterpiece Minute Episode 20 PDF.

Krishna steals clothes of the milkmaids, India, ca. 1880. Painted wood engraving on paper. Edwin Binney 3rd Collection. 1990.1441.

Episode 19: Krishna steals clothes of the milkmaids

Hear why stories of Krishna and other narratives about Hindu deities are popular subject matter and learn some of the history of printmaking in India in this episode of the Masterpiece Minute podcast. Plus, hear the story behind Krishna steals clothes of the milkmaids.

Listen now:

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View Krishna steals clothes of the milkmaids online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Episode 19 PDF.

Domenikos Theotokopoulos (AKA El Greco; Kryiakos Theotokopoulos). The Adoration of the Shepherds, ca. 1576-1577. Oil on copper. Museum purchase and gift of Anne R. and Amy Putnam, by exchange. 1990.104.

Episode 18: The Adoration of the Shepherds by El Greco

How did Spanish master El Greco begin and how did he create his signature style? Learn about El Greco and the significance of this oil painting on copper, The Adoration of the Shepherds, in this episode of the Masterpiece Minute podcast.

Listen now:

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View El Greco’s The Adoration of the Shepherds online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Episode 18 PDF.

The Prodigal Son, ca. 1600, Iran. Opaque watercolor and ink on paper. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Edwin Binney 3rd. 1972.232.

Episode 17: The Prodigal Son

How did European-style imagery and themes come to the Iranian court? Specifically, how did an engraving of The Prodigal Son with the Swine, created in 1538 by prolific German printmaker Sebald Beham, travel to and inspire the 17th century Iranian print of The Prodigal Son shown here?

Explore how art and ideas travel in this Masterpiece Minute podcast episode.

Listen now:

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View The Prodigal Son online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Episode 17 PDF.

Bartholomaeus Spranger. Hercules and Omphale, 1590. Engraving. Gift of Norman Leitman and Todd Butler. 2004.190.

Episode 16: Hercules and Omphala by Bartholomaeus Spranger

How is Bartholomaeus Spranger exploring gender identity in this work? What is the meaning of the iconography shown in this engraving of Hercules and Omphale?

Explore this work and learn about Flemish painter Bartholomeus Spranger, the leading court artist to Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II in Prague (now Czech Republic), in this episode of the Masterpiece Minute podcast.

Listen now:

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View Bartholomeus Spranger’s Hercules and Omphale online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 16 PDF.

Zahhak enthroneddetached page from an illustrated manuscript of the Shahnama (Book of kings). Iran, possibly Shiraz, ca. 1435. Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Edwin Binney 3rd, 1972.223.

Episode 15: Zahhak enthroned

What’s the cautionary tale for rulers shared in this illustrated manuscript page? What’s happening here and how does it relate to Iranian tradition?

Do you see the snakes in this manuscript page? Hear the cautionary tale for rulers shared in this illustrated manuscript page in the second of a two-part podcast series on the arts of the book in Iran. Learn about legendary Iranian kings, Persian folklore, how the Shahnama helped promote refined conduct, and more.

Listen now:

Listen to “Masterpiece Minute – Episode 15” on Spreaker.

View Zahhak enthroned online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 15 PDF.

Gurdiya advises her brother Bahram Chubina, detached page from an illustrated manuscript of the Shahnama (Book of kings). Iran or Iraq, early 14th century. Ink, opaque watercolor, silver, and gold on paper. Gift of Edwin Binney 3rd. 1971.54 

Episode 14: Gurdiya advises her brother

What’s the significance of this early 14th century folio page? What’s happening here and how does it relate to Iranian tradition? Hear this and more in the first of a two-part podcast series on the arts of the book in Iran.

Listen now:

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View Gurdiya advises her brother Bahram Chubina online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 14 PDF.

Juan de Pareja. Christ Served by Angels, ca. 1660. Oil on canvas. Gift of Anne R. and Amy Putnam and commemorating the Silver Jubilee Celebration of Fine Arts Society. 1950.109.

Episode 13: Christ Served by Angels attributed to Juan de Pareja

What clues lead us to believe this unsigned painting is by Juan de Pareja, an enslaved Spanish painter of African descent who spent nearly his entire adult life in the workshop of Diego Velázquez? Unravel this mystery and hear about Pareja’s life, which for many years was shrouded in legend.

Listen now:

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View Juan de Pareja’s Christ Served by Angels online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 13 PDF.

Rachel Ruysch (AKA Rachel Ruisch; Mrs. Juriaen Pool). A Vase of Flowers, 1689. Oil on canvas. Museum purchase with funds from the Gerald and Inez Grant Parker Foundation. 1979.25

Episode 12: A Vase of Flowers by Rachel Ruysch

Is the placement of the flowers painted in this piece random or quite purposeful? Explore this and hear about the family life and career success of celebrated Dutch painter Rachel Ruysch in this Masterpiece Minute podcast episode.

Listen now:

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View Rachel Ruysch’s A Vase of Flowers online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 12 PDF.

Delta Doo by Alison Saar
Alison Saar. Delta Doo, 2002. Woodcut. Gift of Walt Disney Imagineering. 2008.48.

Episode 11: Delta Doo by Alison Saar

What is the meaning of the symbolism in this portrait? Hear how Los Angeles-based artist Alison Saar explores race, gender, and identity in the African diaspora. Learn about the bottle tree tradition and its significance in this powerful woodcut portrait in this Masterpiece Minute podcast episode.

Listen now:

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View Alison Saar’s Delta Doo online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 11 PDF.

Ambrogio Bondone Giotto (AKA Giotto di Bondone). God the Father with Angels, ca. 1330. Tempera on panel. Gift of Anne R. and Amy Putnam. 1945.26.

Episode 10: God the Father with Angels by Giotto

The oldest European painting in the Museum collection, God the Father with Angels has a fascinating history. Learn about this work, including how it was rediscovered, and the hidden feature the artist left for future generations.

Listen now:

Listen to “Episode 10 – Masterpiece Minute Podcast” on Spreaker.

View Giotto’s God the Father with Angels online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 10 PDF.

Indra, mounted on Airavata, proceeding into battle with his army, page from an illustrated manuscript of the Bhagavata Purana (Ancient Tales of the Lord Vishnu), ca. 1840. Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper. Edwin Binney 3rd Collection. 1990.1308.

Episode 9: Indra, mounted on Airavata, proceeding into battle with his army

Who were Indra and Airavata and why are elephants so important in South Asian art? Learn the history and context of Indra, mounted on Airavata, proceeding into battle with his army, a page from an illustrated manuscript of the Bhagavata Purana (Ancient Tales of the Lord Vishnu).

Listen now:

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Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 9 PDF.

Diego Rivera (AKA José Diego Marìa Rivera). The Hands of Dr. Moore, 1940. Oil on canvas. Bequest of Mrs. E. Clarence Moore. 1970.20.

Episode 8: The Hands of Dr. Moore by Diego Rivera

What influenced this surreal portrait? Explore the layers of meaning and depth of this work by Diego Rivera and be sure to listen all the way to the end for a science fun fact.

Listen now:

Listen to “Episode 8 – Masterpiece Minute Podcast” on Spreaker.

View Rivera’s The Hands of Dr. Moore online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 8 PDF.

Elephants and Drivers Fighting for Sport, drawing mounted on a detached album folio. India, Deccan, Bijapur or Ahmadnagar, 1st quarter 17th century. Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper. Edwin Binney 3rd Collection. 1990.439.

Episode 7: Elephants and Drivers Fighting for Sport

Enter the world of ancient south Indian courtly art and learn the many roles of elephants in this latest Masterpiece Minute podcast episode.

Listen now:

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View Elephants and Drivers Fighting for Sport online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 7 PDF.

Francisco de Zurbarán. Virgin and Child with Saint John, 1658. Oil on canvas. Gift of Anne R., Amy and Irene Putnam. 1935.22

Episode 6: Antique Spanish frame for Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist by Francisco de Zurbarán

What makes this antique Spanish frame a perfect fit for this work by Francisco de Zurbarán? Hear how this frame and painting came together in the latest episode of Masterpiece Minute.

Listen now:

Listen to “Episode 6 – Masterpiece Minute Podcast” on Spreaker.

View Zurbarán’s Virgin and Child with Saint John online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 6 PDF.

This episode of Masterpiece Minute is brought to you in part by the Tourist Office of Spain.

Hendrick Goltzius (AKA Hendrik Goltz; Hendrick Goltius), Frederick de Vries, 1597. Engraving on laid paper. Gift of Norman Leitman and Todd Butler. 2004.108.

Episode 5: Frederick de Vries (also known as A Boy and His Dog) by Hendrick Goltzius

A boy, a dog, and a bird. What’s the hidden message? Learn the story behind this endearing engraving from Hendrick Goltzius.

Listen now:

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View Goltzius’ Frederick de Vries online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 5 PDF.

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (AKA Joaquín Sorolla Bastida Gascón Prat Bux Tenas Esc). María at La Granja, 1907. Oil on canvas. Gift of Mr. Archer M. Huntington in memory of his mother, Arabella D. Huntington. 1925.1

Episode 4: María at La Granja by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida

Who was María and what is the significance of her being in La Granja? Learn the story behind this masterpiece by Sorolla, the very first work in the SDMA collection.

Listen now:

Listen to “Episode 4 – Masterpiece Minute Podcast” on Spreaker.

View Sorolla’s María at La Granja online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 4 PDF.

This episode of Masterpiece Minute is brought to you in part by the Tourist Office of Spain.

Francisco de Zurbarán. Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”), ca. 1635-1640. Oil on canvas. Gift of Anne R. and Amy Putnam, 1947.36.

Episode 3: Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”) by Francisco de Zurbarán

Still life or devotional symbolic painting? Hear the significance of this work and why it’s a favorite among kids.

Listen now:

Listen to “Episode 3 – Masterpiece Minute Podcast” on Spreaker.

View Zurbarán’s Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”) online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 3 PDF.

This episode of Masterpiece Minute is brought to you in part by the Tourist Office of Spain.

Giorgione (Giorgio da Castelfranc). Portrait of a Man, 1506. Oil on panel. Gift of Anne R. and Amy Putnam, 1941.100.

Episode 2: Portrait of a Man by Giorgione

Why did so few of Giorgione’s works survive? Learn the reason and how this important work breaks from earlier portraits from the Italian Renaissance.

Listen now:

Listen to “Episode 2 – Masterpiece Minute Podcast” on Spreaker.

View Giorgione’s Portrait of a Man online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 2 PDF.

Juan Sánchez Cotán. Still Life with Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber, ca. 1602. Oil on canvas. Gift of Anne R. and Amy Putnam, 1945.43

Episode 1: Still Life with Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber by Juan Sánchez Cotán

Hear the history behind this masterful still life, including which royal court it once adorned and how it’s tied to the Carthusian monastery.

Listen now:

Listen to “Masterpiece Minute Episode 1” on Spreaker.

View Cotán’s Still Life with Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber online.

Read along with the Masterpiece Minute Ep. 1 PDF.

This episode of Masterpiece Minute is brought to you in part by the Tourist Office of Spain.


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Featured: Jules-Ferdinand Jacquemart. The Musician, 19th century. Etching. Gift of John F. Hollowell, 1967.22.g. | André Derain (AKA André Louis Derain). Head of a Woman, listening, ca. 1934. Etching. George C. Kenney II and Olga Kitsakos-Kenney, 2004.227.