The Public Domain Review

This is just an automatic copy of Public Domain Review blog.

Exquisite Rot: Spalted Wood and the Lost Art of Intarsia

Wednesday 16 May 2018 at 18:39

The technique of intarsia — the fitting together of pieces of intricately cut wood to make often complex images — has produced some of the most awe-inspiring pieces of Renaissance craftsmanship. Daniel Elkind explores the history of this masterful art, and how an added dash of colour arose from a most unlikely source: lumber ridden with fungus.


Maps Showing California as an Island

Tuesday 15 May 2018 at 16:37

California used to be thought of as an island. This stunning collection of 17th- and 18th-century maps illustrates how.


Mnemonic Alphabet of Jacobus Publicius (1482)

Wednesday 9 May 2018 at 19:27

Illustrated alphabet, used to aid memory, in which each letter is paired with an object (in some case more than one) which echoes its shape.


The Philosophy of Beards (1854)

Tuesday 8 May 2018 at 18:09

Eccentric Victorian book arguing a strong case for the universal wearing of a beard – that essential symbol of manly distinction since ancient times.


Iconology of a Cardinal: Was Wolsey Really so Large?

Thursday 3 May 2018 at 13:22

Characterised as manipulative, power-hungry, and even an alter rex, Henry VIII's right-hand man Cardinal Thomas Wolsey has been typically depicted with a body mass to rival his political weight. Katherine Harvey asks whether he was really the glutton of popular legend, and what such an image reveals about the link between the body, reputation, and power in Tudor England.


First recording of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (1909)

Monday 30 April 2018 at 17:17

First known recording of the popular African American spiritual performed in 1909 for Victor Studios by the Fisk University Jubilee Quartet.


Utagawa Hiroshige: Last Great Master of Ukiyo-e

Wednesday 25 April 2018 at 16:25

Highlights from the fantastic collection of Hiroshige prints held at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.


Letters to Dead Authors (1886)

Tuesday 24 April 2018 at 15:11

Twenty-two letters written by Andrew Lang (1844–1912) to bards, poets, and novelists from Homer to Rabelais to Austen.


Made in Taiwan? How a Frenchman Fooled 18th-Century London

Wednesday 18 April 2018 at 18:28

Benjamin Breen on the remarkable story of George Psalmanazar, the mysterious Frenchman who successfully posed as a native of Formosa (now modern Taiwan) and gave birth to a meticulously fabricated culture with bizarre customs, exotic fashions, and its own invented language.


Hans Holbein’s Dance of Death (1523–5)

Tuesday 17 April 2018 at 17:37

Holbein's series of action-packed scenes in which Death intrudes on the everyday lives of people from various levels of society — from pope to physician to ploughman.