The Public Domain Review

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Orra White Hitchcock’s Scientific Illustrations for the Classroom (1828–40)

Thursday 28 April 2022 at 09:47

These hand-coloured scientific illustrations — on poster-sized linen swaths designed to be hung on classroom walls — are striking for their modern abstraction.


Trade Edition of Affinities Now Available for Pre-order

Wednesday 27 April 2022 at 12:46

Published by Thames and Hudson, the trade edition of Affinities will be out in the UK on May 26th and in the US on June 7th.


“A Sword was Seen in the Sky”: A True and Wonderful Narrative (1763)

Wednesday 27 April 2022 at 08:47

Pamphlet, printed in Philadelphia, describing strange sky phenomena witnessed over Riga and Kirschberg.


Handy Mnemonics: The Five-Fingered Memory Machine

Thursday 21 April 2022 at 13:55

Before humans stored memories as zeroes and ones, we turned to digital devices of another kind — preserving knowledge on the surface of fingers and palms. Kensy Cooperrider leads us through a millennium of “hand mnemonics” and the variety of techniques practised by Buddhist monks, Latin linguists, and Renaissance musicians for remembering what might otherwise elude the mind.


The Stream of Time (1803–58)

Wednesday 20 April 2022 at 11:25

In "stream of time" charts, Friedrich Strass and later artists depict human history as bodies of flowing water.


Ostentatio Genitalium in Renaissance Art

Thursday 14 April 2022 at 09:13

In the Renaissance ostentatio genitalium tradition, the visual virility of Christ affirms his divinity.


The Encyclopedia of Light

Wednesday 13 April 2022 at 12:15

In the affecting work of sensory history, Peter Schmidt uses the “strikethrough” as a kind of shadow-writing: his “Encyclopedia of Light” reveals little dark threads of undoing — marks of the second thought that endlessly cancels the first.


“The Rainbow for their Guide”: Mary Gartside’s New Theory of Colours (1808)

Tuesday 12 April 2022 at 12:14

Mary Gartside's Essay antedates James Sowerby’s and Goethe’s treatises on colour, while its illustrations have been deemed some of the earlier examples of abstraction in painting.


Documenting Drugs: The Artful Intoxications of Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz

Thursday 7 April 2022 at 10:59

In pursuit of Pure Form, the Polish artist known as “Witkacy” would consume peyote, cocaine, and other intoxicants before creating pastel portraits. Juliette Bretan takes a trip through Witkiewicz’s chemical forays, including his 1932 Narcotics, a genre-bending treatise that warns of the hazards of drugs while seductively recollecting their delirious effects.


A Vanishing Nova: Uranographia Britannica (ca. 1749)

Wednesday 6 April 2022 at 12:42

John Bevis' atlas was one of the greatest star charts produced during the Golden Age of the Celestial Atlas.