Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Paris Music Hall Costume Sketches

Selections from the Paris Music Hall Collection at University of Georgia Libraries, Hargrett Library. These are original sketches. Meeooow!
Addit: Hm. These look familiar. I don't think I've posted them or this site before.

Christmas Ornaments 2

Christmas Ornaments 2, White House photo by Susan Sterner.Christmas Ornaments 2, White House photo by Susan Sterner. Over 350 instrument ornaments hang on the 2004 Blue Room Christmas tree along with almost 400 Christmas balls.
Works by the U. S. Government are not eligible for U. S. copyright protection. Photographs in this collection were taken by photographers working for the U.S. Government.

Generally speaking, works created by U.S. Government employees are not eligible for copyright protection in the United States. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" from the U.S. Copyright Office.

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Celtic Dreaming

I wish I could say that I have a link to more of these 1857 lithographs by Henry O'Neill from his book, Illustrations of Some of the Most Interesting Sculptured Crosses of Ancient Ireland, alas ... but they come from this celtarts site which has a little bit more information (and larger images).

Are you reading this, Santa?

TI list member and good buddy René Milot alerted me to the current auction at The Illustration House. This because René likes to imagine me curled in the fetal position, shaking and sweating all over and muttering, "my precious" as I click through image after image of unatainable original art. Thanks buddy!

Anyway, in case Santa is reading this, hey Big Guy? Two words: "Lot 75".

What more can I say...

that hasn't been said better or more thoroughly elsewhere? Only that once again we can see why Al Parker (1906-1985) was called "the illustrator of our times" by Cosmopolitan magazine in 1953.

You can find a biography of Al Parker here and of course many other examples of Parker's work on my site.

The Orchid Scrapbooks of John Day

In victorian times, as the exotic parts of the world were being explored, orchids became incredibly popular as an emblem of a tropical paradise. There was something particularly romantic about the often arduous collection expeditions and warm faraway climes and inherent beauty of the flowers that ignited the passions of enthusiastic collectors.

John Day (1824-1888) was one of those ardent admirers and spent about 40 years cultivating them in his own glasshouses and searching them out on expeditions. He introduced many species into Britain for the first time (and many are named after him or in his honour). But Day is best remembered for the 53 scrapbooks containing about 3000 watercolour paintings of the objects of his passion. The illustrations were often accompanied by descriptive text from a botanical professor friend.

The Romance of Orchid Discovery: The John Day Scrapbooks at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Los Calaveras de Posada

José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) was a Mexican lithographer and engraver who produced some 20,000 illustrations during his life. He mostly worked out of a print shop in Mexico City where he engraved illustrations for newspapers but the majority of his work was published in the the broadsides of the pennypress, a favourite among the poorer people.

It is his satirical calaveras (colloquial for skeletons) that have achieved lasting fame. They have been adopted as a motif by (or indeed, arose from) the Mexican celebration - Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Just by the by, this festival derives from the ancient practises of the mesoamerican civilizations combined with the catholic All Saints Day and has no association with the more macabre Halloween. While the Posada images recall the 15th century european figures from Holbein in the Danse Macabre, I could find no evidence to suggest that this was a direct influence on Posada. The images here and the background to Día de los Muertos are certainly evidence for the calaveras being a generally 'happy' form of illustration.

Diego Rivera was a big fan of Posada and together with other art students, they would go to the print shop to collect the shaving from the Posada's engraving blocks. Rivera would immortalize Posada in the mural Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda).

It was the nature of the times in Mexico that critical publications were suppressed, which meant that the biting satire of illustrations such as those of Posada became all the more poignant. The political and social threads in the illustrations often require some local background however. Despite the important place Posada holds in the pantheon of Mexican (print) art, he was largely unknown and very poor at the time of his death - at the beginning of the Mexican revolution.
"Equilibrium and movement are the supreme qualities of Mexican
classic-that is, pre-Cortesian-art" says Diego Rivera when speaking of Posada.
"Another trait of Mexican classical art is its love of character."

Call Me Ishmael

But the world knew him (as I did until yesterday) as "Woodi". Woodi Ishmael (1914-) always signed his magazine and advertising work with his first name. I have no idea why, but that distinctive signature graced countless ads, usually for something mechanical or industrial. Ishmael clearly found his niche by specializing in machinery, though he was just as adept with the human form and natural environments.

A web search turned up this dense site of biographical info, art examples and even audio clip interviews all courtesy of the U.S. Airforce. It turns out Woodi really enjoyed painting airplanes, and Uncle Sam had plenty of work for him. Go check it out.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Severini Pochoir

Fleurs et Masque

Gino Severini pochoir prints from 1930 at La Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze.

was a prominent futurist and here he applies a cubist approach to traditional Commedia dell'arte material. [previously pochoir]

David Rumsey Historical Maps

The above images come from: Atlas para el Viage de las Goletas Sutil y Mexicana 'al reconocimiento del Estrecho de Juan de Fuca en 1792', published in 1802 by the author José de Espinosa y Tello de Portugal.
[The portraits are very similar to those posted a few weeks ago from the Cook's Voyage to the Pacific set]
Publication note: The Spanish "Vancouver." Atlas volume only, first edition. Sometimes attributed to Dionisio Alcala Galiano. The title of the text volume is "Relacion del Viage Hecho por las Goletas Sutil y Mexicana en al ano 1792 para reconocer el estrecho de Fuca..." The last and very important voyage up the Pacific coast to be undertaken by Spain is detailed in the nine maps and eight plates of the atlas. Galiano and Cayetano Valdes led the expedition, arriving in the northwest at the same time as Vancouver. Although the maps were published four years after the Vancouver maps, Wagner considers them in many respects to be superior, and Humboldt used them in his Essai Politique sur le Royaume de la Nouvelle Espagne. Wagner further states: "The general impression that the English discoveries of Vancouver were published four years before those of the Spaniards. a misapprehension... The principal reason, however, why the nomenclature and geography of Vancouver came to occupy the field was that his maps were extensively copied by the famous English cartographer, Aaron Arrowsmith, and later by the English Admiralty." "

A comparative view of the heights of the principal mountains and other elevations in the World. Drawn & engraved for Thomson's New General Atlas by W. & D. Lizars, Edinburgh. (1817) The engraving includes vertical measurements and names of the peaks.

Picture of Nations or Perspective Sketch of the Course of Empire. Published 1836 in Atlas to accompany a System of universal history; containing, I. A chronological picture of nations, or perspective sketch of the course of empire. II. The progressive geography of the World, in a series of maps, adapted to the different epochas of the history. by the very interesting Emma C. (Hart) Willard, principal of Troy Female Seminary.
[I found this to be an extraordinary image and the detail here hardly does it justice. It was an attempt to outline world history from the time of creation, through the birth of Christ (the obvious star) up to the empire of Napoleon, being the horizontal section at bottom centre of the image. It reminds me of the tree branching cladogram maps in species phylogenetic relationships]

[The last 2 images I had collected along the way and didn't retrieve any information about them]
Click on the images here for slightly larger versions.

Serendipity was involved in my somehow finding my way (back) to the fantastic David Rumsey cartographic website.

Last month, another 1500-odd further maps were uploaded to bring the total of high resolution free maps available to over 12,000, out of a personal collection that totals about 150,000 maps.

It was among the new images that I spent way too much time today in collecting the above jpegs. As usual, I was drawn to curios and there are plenty of others that I didn't post. Of course, most of the material online is strictly maps and atlases and they concentrate on the Americas between 1700-1900 for the mostpart, but not exclusively. It will likely require downloading a browser plugin to see the large documents (I'd done so previously, so can't remember what's necessary - nothing too painful anyway)

This profile of David Rumsey is well worth a read. His is a great attitude for anyone who likes to see primary source material available free online.

I am obliged to the custodian of The Map Room both for pointing me towards the profile of Rumsey but more importantly, from a personal perspective, for announcing and linking BibliOdyssey when it began, for which I am very grateful. If you have any latent or overt cartophilic tendencies, go have a look at The Map Room. It's aimed at a general audience and is not too technical.

China Prints

China Prints - it is a slow server but worth the wait. Larger jpegs are also available. They have works by about 30 print artists.
"Gradually people realize no more arts can express the continuity of culture, the concern of the development of human beings and its future than prints. Facing the development of prints, we try to record all the outstanding printmakers. Their artworks reflect the enterprising spirit and taste of beauty of human beings."

[The printmaker, title and technique are in the above image URLs]

The Countdown Begins

I've made so many purchases on ebay over the past year that I really need to start the Today's Inspiration Countdown to Christmas early this year... so please bear with me. I'll try to keep it interesting for everybody. For starters, here's a new find by the oft-requested Harry Anderson ( 1906-1996).

Walt Reed's "Illustrator in America" tells us that Anderson was allergic to oils, so what you see here is either watercolour or gouache, which Anderson learned to blend like oils. While Anderson was a major contributor to advertising and national magazines like the Saturday Evening Post for many years, he seems to have found his calling in painting religious subjects for the latter part of his career.

A fellow who was on the TI list for a while, Jim Pinkoski, has a Harry Anderson tribute page on his website that focuses on that part of Anderson's career. Jim actually met Harry Anderson and has many photos of the artist in his studio and at his home.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Christmas Snow Washington D.C.

Christmas Snow Washington D.C. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USZ62-109361TITLE: [ Man standing by snow hut, after blizzard of 1888(?), with U.S. Capitol in background, Washington, D.C.], CALL NUMBER: LOT 12663 [P and P] REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USZ62-109361 (b&w film copy neg.) MEDIUM: 1 photographic print. CREATED, PUBLISHED: [1888?]
Digital ID: cph 3c09361 Source: b&w film copy neg. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-109361 (b&w film copy neg.) Retrieve higher resolution JPEG version (127 kilobytes) DIGITAL ID: (b&w film copy neg.) cph 3c09361, CARD #: 93517645

Works published prior to 1978 were copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" from the U.S. Copyright Office. Works published works before 1923 are now in the public domain.

Three photos are from Brady-Handy Collection. Photographers: C.O. Buckingham and L.C. Handy. Gift; Faith Bradford (and other sources); (DLC/PP-1950:R2) REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Credit Line: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USZ62-109361

Leave a comment, make a request, Let this small sampling be a guide to better quality, more plentiful, public domain, royalty free, copyright free, high resolution, images, stock photos, jpeg, jpg, free for commercial use, clip art, clipart, clip-art. more at and or and

Artificial Magic

Editor, fellow Jesuit and assistant to the exceptional Athanasius Kircher, Kaspar Schott (1608-1666) also ranged in scientific territories with his mentor that bordered the illicit and forbidden world of magick. As one of a number of custodians of the renowned Musaeum Kircherianum, Schott was uniquely placed to elucidate upon the catalogue of fantastical machines of 'artifical magic' on display.

"Perhaps this very flirtation with the black arts was a source for titillation for the princely and religious audience of Kircher’s wonders – an audience directly involved in the persecution of popular magic during the same period – allowing them to experience the “armchair-thrills” of magic without being morally implicated. Jesuit theatrical productions during this period were particularly famous for their stage-machinery – convincing representations of hell were a speciality – and for their hard-hitting moral didacticism, both features that they shared with Kircher’s machinic-performances, as we have seen in the case of the Delphic oracle."
In the preface to his 1657 treatise, Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica, which is displayed in full at the Max Planck Institute's Archimides Project, Schott advises readers -
"There is, in the much-visited Museum (that we will soon publish in print) of the Most learned and truly famous Author mentioned above (i.e. Kircher), a great abundance of Hydraulic and Pneumatic Machines, that are beheld and admired with enormous delight of their souls by those Princes and literati who rush from all cities and parts of the world to see them, and who hungrily desire to know how they are made, and so that I can satisfy their desire to know the construction of the machines, I have undertaken to show the fabric, and almost the anatomy of all of the Machines in the said Museum, or already shown elsewhere by the same author."

[The Archimides Project site has a scaler arrangement preventing extraction of each image at full size, so most of the images here are taken from their zooming features. The 4th and 5th image above are details from the 3rd image]

I'm a Retro Kid!

...and proud to say so! The tireless Ward Jenkins of ward-O-matic fame has yet another side project called The Retro Kid group on Flickr. That's where Ward and his merry band of helper elves ( who go by strange but charming handles like "ticky-tacky", "grickily" and "sturdevant" ) post the images they've scanned that typify, as Ward puts it, "anything that was illustrated for kids at that time: (children's books), albums, 45's, commercials, ads, games, toys, etc."

Last week's look at Lowell Hess brought the Retro Kid into clearer focus for me so I jumped in their pool and the water's fine! If you too enjoy "that cool mid-century modern styling" then rush right over there and dive in. Especially recommended to the many cartoonists, animators and character designers on the list!

Reilluminating the Bible

"The Bible is the calligraphic artist's supreme
challenge (our Sistine Chapel), a daunting task."
Since 1970, Donald Jackson (Senior Illuminator to the Queen of England’s Crown Office and an elected Fellow and past Chairman of the prestigious Society of Scribes and Illuminators) has expressed the desire to handwrite the bible and include illuminations. It would be the first undertaking of its kind since the invention of the printing press.

It is appropriate that St Johns Benedictine Abbey, who have a 1500 year association with manuscripts (they still have significant holdings) should acquiesce to Jackson's wishes, and they formally commissioned the project in 1998/1999. Using calf vellum, handmade inks with quill and gilding and silver inlay work, Jackson began the monumental task with: "In the beginning was the word.." in March 2000.

By May 2005, 4 of the 7 volumes had been completed. They measure some 16 x 25 inches and will number about 1100 pages when finished. There will be 160 illuminations whose content have been worked out by a team - "It is up to a committee of artists, medievalists, theologians, biblical scholars and art historians to create these theological stories for Donald Jackson, the artistic director of The Saint John’s Bible."
They are not completely shunning modernity: "A computer is used to size text and define line breaks. These pages are laid out in full size spreads with sketches in position. Artists use these layouts to guide their work."

Astonishing. The Saint Johns Bible website have all the facts and media coverage and images of manuscript pages (with watermarks over larger jpegs) and you can even buy regular book copies of the completed volumes. [Thanks to Ars Theologica]