The Public Domain Review

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Fraktur Folk Art (ca. 1750–1820)

Thursday 30 March 2023 at 10:24

This form of folk art from 17th- and 18th-century Pennsylvania was designed for private, domestic pleasures.


Blights of the Bookish: An Essay on Diseases Incidental to Literary and Sedentary Persons (1768)

Tuesday 28 March 2023 at 10:50

In this essay on the ailments of sedentary lifestyles, reading and scholarly study have tragic and sometimes fatal consequences.


Beast in the Blood: Jean Denis and the “Transfusion Affair”

Wednesday 22 March 2023 at 12:42

During the late 1660s in Paris, transfusing the blood of calves and lambs into human veins held the promise of renewed youth and vigour. Peter Sahlins explores Jean Denis’ controversial experiments driven by his belief in the moral superiority of animal blood: a substance that could help redeem the fallen state of humanity.


Martin Frobenius Ledermüller’s Microscopic Delights (1759–63)

Wednesday 22 March 2023 at 12:42

These 18th-century microscopic illustrations offer wonderful glimpses into the minutiae of the natural world.


Chaos Bewitched: Moby-Dick and AI

Tuesday 21 March 2023 at 09:33

Eigil zu Tage-Ravn asks a GTP-3-driven AI system for help in the interpretation of a key scene in Moby-Dick (1851). Do androids dream of electric whales?


Beetle Carapaces in Basohli Miniature Paintings (ca. 1660–1700)

Thursday 16 March 2023 at 08:39

Rising to prominence in the seventeenth century, the Basohli School of painting is particularly known for its vibrant use of color and inventive textural elements — including iridescent beetle carapaces.


Cultus Arborum: A Descriptive Account of Phallic Tree Worship (1890)

Tuesday 14 March 2023 at 07:59

Offering hundreds of examples from religious history, this book was part of a larger Phallic Series of treatises by Hargrave Jennings.


Picturing Pregnancy in Early Modern Europe

Wednesday 8 March 2023 at 07:46

When the womb began to appear in printed images during the 16th century, it was understood through analogy: a garden, uroscopy flask, or microcosm of the universe. Rebecca Whiteley explores early modern birth figures, which picture the foetus in utero, and discovers an iconic form imbued with multiple kinds of knowledge: from midwifery know-how to alchemical secrets, astrological systems to new anatomical findings.


Atlas of the Munsell Color System (1915)

Tuesday 7 March 2023 at 10:33

Munsell envisioned his atlas as a system akin to musical notation, which would liberate visual description from commercially-driven colour names.


“March of Intellect” Cartoons (1828–29)

Thursday 2 March 2023 at 10:18

In their imagination and satire, these prints reflected debates about education reform and the dissemination of knowledge in 1820s Britain.