The Public Domain Review

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Fearful Symmetry: Inkblot Books (1859–1915)

Thursday 26 May 2022 at 11:15

Inkblot books were part bestiary, part parlor-game séance, cataloging those creatures that seemed to crawl out of the inkwell with the slightest encouragement.


Of Angel and Puppet: Klee, Rilke, and the Test of Innocence

Thursday 19 May 2022 at 10:58

Built for his son from the scraps of daily life — matchboxes, beef bones, nutshells, and plaster — Paul Klee’s hand puppets harbour ghosts of human feelings, fragile communications from a world most adults have left behind. Kenneth Gross compares these enchanted objects to angelic figures, in Klee’s artworks and the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, helping us dance as well as wrestle with their visions of innocence.


Filippo Balbi’s Testa Anatomica (1854)

Tuesday 17 May 2022 at 10:43

Echoing the work of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, a composite head comprised of a tortuous tangle of écorché-like figures.


Alexander in the Bathysphere

Thursday 12 May 2022 at 12:29

The story of Alexander the Great descending into the sea in a diving bell has led to diverse visual representations across countries, languages, and centuries.


Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies (1757–95)

Thursday 12 May 2022 at 12:18

As historical documents, the surviving editions of Harris’s List offer today’s readers a rare glimpse into London's 18th-century sex trade.


Petrified Waters: The Artificial Grottoes of the Renaissance and Beyond

Thursday 5 May 2022 at 11:00

Idling alongside the waters of artificial grottoes, visitors found themselves in lush, otherworldly settings, where art and nature, pleasure and peril, and humans and nymphs could, for a time, coexist. Laura Tradii spelunks through the handmade caves of the Italian Renaissance and their reception abroad, illuminating how these curious spaces transformed across the centuries.


Jan Luyken’s Frontispiece for Osteologia (1680)

Tuesday 3 May 2022 at 13:34

This etching seems to speak to the Enlightenment’s mission to give order to the natural world.


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.