The Public Domain Review

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“Mother Will Be Pleased”: How It Feels to Be Run Over (1900)

Thursday 6 October 2022 at 08:15

One of the earliest uses of intertitles, Hepworth’s film belongs to a genre of fin-de-siècle accident pictures, where we can observe cinema discovering new forms of communication.


Evrard d'Espinque’s Illuminations of De Proprietatibus Rerum (ca. 1480)

Tuesday 4 October 2022 at 10:45

Among the loveliest illuminations of Bartholomaeus Anglicus' encyclopedia, Evrard d'Espinque's illuminations use a T-O pattern to trace the Great Chain of Being.


Hypnerotomachia Poliphili and the Architecture of Dreams

Wednesday 28 September 2022 at 11:12

With its otherworldly woodcuts and ornate descriptions of imagined architecture, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili brims with an obsessive and erotic fixation on form. Demetra Vogiatzaki accompanies the hero as he wanders the pages of this quattrocento marvel, at once a story of lost love and a fever dream of antiquity.


The Turns of the Turnverein: Heinrich Hamann’s Gymnastic Photographs (ca. 1902)

Tuesday 27 September 2022 at 15:08

More than a set of techniques to improve individual fitness, Johann Friedrich Ludwig Christoph Jahn’s gymnastics were meant to train a new form of body politic.


The Kumatologist: Vaughan Cornish’s Wave Studies (1910–14)

Thursday 22 September 2022 at 13:49

After a transformative moment on the Devon Coast, Vaughan Cornish devoted his life to the study of waveforms.


The Blood Collages of John Bingley Garland (ca. 1850–60)

Tuesday 20 September 2022 at 13:58

Some 50 years before collage would become an established art form, came these pioneering Victorian images all of which exude a certain decorative detail: blood.


Colonizing the Cosmos: Astor’s Electrical Future

Wednesday 14 September 2022 at 08:57

During America’s Gilded Age, the future seemed to pulse with electrical possibility. Iwan Rhys Morus follows the interplanetary safari that is John Jacob Astor’s A Journey in Other Worlds, a high-voltage scientific romance in which visions of imperialism haunt a supposedly “perfect” future.


Trimalchio in Newburyport: Timothy Dexter’s A Pickle for the Knowing Ones (1848)

Tuesday 13 September 2022 at 08:27

A strange 1797 text — in a personal eye dialect and entirely devoid of punctuation — written by the eccentric 18th-century businessman known for his wildly good luck.


Howard Pyle's The Mermaid (1910)

Thursday 8 September 2022 at 09:11

A year before his death, the artist Howard Pyle set off for Italy, leaving unfinished on his Delaware easel his final painting The Mermaid — a profoundly haunting work of art.


Phantom Bouquets: Two Books on the Art of Skeleton Leaves (1864)

Tuesday 6 September 2022 at 08:25

These two treatises detail the art of leaf preservation through “skeletonization”.