The Public Domain Review

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Proust’s Pinks

Wednesday 9 November 2022 at 12:19

For vast stretches of À la recherche du temps perdu, there is scarcely a page unadorned by vibrant colour. To commemorate the centenary of Marcel Proust’s death, Christopher Prendergast celebrates his use of pink, how its tone shifts from innocence to themes of sexual need, before finally fading out to grey at the novel’s close.


Wheels Within Wheels: The “Flammarion Engraving” (ca. 1888)

Wednesday 9 November 2022 at 12:17

This celestial image has long stumped scholars: is it a lost Renaissance engraving or a nineteenth century pastiche?


Shadows from the Walls of Death (1874)

Thursday 3 November 2022 at 12:40

Originally printed in a run of one hundred copies, only a half-dozen of which remain, this dangerous book is made from wallpaper laced with arsenic.


Playing Indian: Cummings’ Indian Congress at Coney Island (1903)

Wednesday 2 November 2022 at 09:56

The Coney Island “Congress”, supposedly captured here in audio, was a conglomeration of counterfeits.


“Spontaneous Revolutions”: Darwin’s Diagrams of Plant Movement

Wednesday 26 October 2022 at 09:14

After weeks of watching young tendrils slowly corkscrew their way toward the sun, Charles Darwin set about inventing a system for making botanic motion visible to the naked eye. Natalie Lawrence delves into a lesser-known chapter of the naturalist’s research, discovering revelations about the vegetal world that remain neglected to this day.


Synaesthesia’s Colour Debut (1883)

Tuesday 25 October 2022 at 16:06

Francis Galton's Inquiries Into Human Faculty and its Development features what is thought to be the first colour image of synaesthetic visualisations.


Etteilla’s Livre de Thot Tarot (ca. 1789)

Thursday 20 October 2022 at 13:55

French occultist Jean-Baptiste Alliette refashioned the tarot deck as a tool for spiritual and mundane divination.


Black Bibliography: Daniel Murray’s Preliminary List (1900)

Tuesday 18 October 2022 at 11:54

Prepared for “The Exhibit of American Negroes” at the Paris Exposition, Murray's bibliography lists all works of Black Americans known at the time.


The Polyhedral Perspective

Wednesday 12 October 2022 at 11:50

When geometrical solids took hold of the Renaissance imagination, they promised the quintessence of the third dimension in its pure and unadulterated form. Noam Andrews discovers how polyhedra descended from mathematical treatises to artists’ studios, distilling abstract ideas into objects one could see and touch.


Fungi Collected in Shropshire and Other Neighbourhoods (1860–1902)

Tuesday 11 October 2022 at 10:30

Bound into three exquisitely colored volumes, Fungi features hundreds of species, collected across 42 years by a female mycologist named M. F. Lewis.