The Public Domain Review

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Pods, Pots, and Potions: Putting Cacao to Paper in Early Modern Europe

Thursday 7 December 2017 at 18:55

Christine Jones explores the different ways the cacao tree has been depicted through history — from 16th-century codices to 18th-century botanicals — and what this changing iconography reveals about cacao's journey into European culture.


Kittens and Cats: A First Reader (1911) — Cats and Captions before the Internet Age

Wednesday 6 December 2017 at 18:39

If this delightful book is anything to go by then taking photos of cats and brandishing them with an amusing caption, was far from being a phenomenon born with the internet.


The Whims (1799) and The Follies (1815–23) of Francisco Goya

Tuesday 28 November 2017 at 19:08

Prints from Goya's Los caprichos (The Whims) and Los disparates (The Follies), two series which see him condemning the follies and foibles of civilized society.


Brief Encounters with Jean-Frédéric Maximilien de Waldeck

Wednesday 22 November 2017 at 17:24

Not a lot concerning the artist, erotic publisher, explorer, and general enigma Count de Waldeck can be taken at face value, and this certainly includes his fanciful representations of ancient Mesoamerican culture which — despite the exquisite brilliance of their execution — run wild with anatopistic lions, elephants, and suspicious architecture. Rhys Griffiths looks at the life and work of one of the 19th century's most mysterious and eccentric figures.


The “Salad Oil Style” of Jan Toorop

Tuesday 21 November 2017 at 18:42

Selection of Dutch artist Jan Toorop's distinctive works, designs featuring highly stylised figures, embedded in complex curvilinear designs, with his dynamic line showing influence from his Javanese roots.


Diagrams from Dr Alesha Sivartha’s Book of Life (1898)

Wednesday 15 November 2017 at 18:24

A series of superbly intricate and striking "brain maps", illustrating Dr Alesha Sivartha's unique blend of blend of science, sociology, mysticism and religion, a spiritual teaching which apparently attracted the attention of Mark Twain among others.


Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio (1880)

Tuesday 14 November 2017 at 20:22

First English translation of Pu Songling's collection of classical Chinese stories, including magical pear trees, thimble-sized babies, ghostly cities, and mean spirited daughters-in-law being turned into pigs.


Flash Mob: Revolution, Lightning, and the People’s Will

Thursday 9 November 2017 at 18:42

Kevin Duong explores how leading French revolutionaries, in need of an image to represent the all important “will of the people”, turned to the thunderbolt — a natural symbol of power and illumination that also signalled the scientific ideals so key to their project.


Autumn: Saviour, Breathe an Evening Blessing (1912)

Wednesday 8 November 2017 at 20:07

Rendition by the Trinity Choir of James Edmeston's 1820 hymn "Savior, Breathe an Evening Blessing"


The Model Book of Calligraphy (1561–1596)

Tuesday 7 November 2017 at 18:04

Pages from a remarkable book, the result of a collaboration across many decades between a master scribe, the Croatian-born Georg Bocskay, and Flemish artist Joris Hoefnagel.