Sunday, August 10, 2008


Dragon Tank

This fabulous dragon 'tank' comes from another volume out of the (very) weird baroque series - 'Frauenzimmer Gesprechspiele' [by GP Harsdoerffer] from HAB - that was featured here a few weeks ago.

For some reason, I got it into my mind that this engraving would be the first of many quasi-'biological tank' illustrations for a thematic entry - as if this was a hitherto secret and bizarre historical art genre (?!) - to be uncovered with a few choice image searches. Alas, the quest was largely unsuccessful, apart from the armoured war elephant image below [source]. Maybe I should have been concentrating the hunt in CG art forums. They certainly make great spaceships [via/via]

Elephant Armour

Prognosticon historicum und Physicum

'Prognosticon Historicum und Physicum..' by Johann Hebenstreit, 1565 (at BSB). There are no other illustrations as I recall. This book belongs to the Renaissance symbolist prophecy literature.

'man riding a pig' Matthias Flacius 1550

From: 'Erklerung der Schendlichen ... zum Antichrist Fallen'
~1550 by the Lutheran Reformer, Matthias Flacius* [BSB].

Skull Sundial

'Stat, und Feldtbuch Bewerter Wundtarznei' by Walther Hermann Ryff, 1551 [BSB]. This is a field manual of surgery and the skull-sundial image offers an introductory visual metaphor announcing the inevitability of death. There are many more images of instruments, surgery and anatomy within but I wouldn't describe the book illustrations as exceptional. Ryff was a prolific and respected author of 16th century medical texts. [see Morbid Anatomy for some further anatomical illustrations from another of Ryff's works]

Golden Chetodon and the Silver Fish (Ichthyologie - ME Bloch 1795) Rylands

The Golden Chaetodon and the Silver Fish
IN: 'Ichthyologie, ou Histoire Naturelle' (the French version of the original German book called: 'Allgemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische') by Marc Éliéser Bloch, 1795.
"These series of publications, under the general title 'Allgemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische', Berlin, 1781-95, 12 vols., provided with 432 excellent plate-illustrations, formed the principal work on ichthyology in the eighteenth century. But this great work, which Bloch began to publish at his own expense, would not have been finished were it not for the enthusiasm that the enterprise roused throughout Germany, it being regarded as almost a national affair; so much so indeed that all the princes and patrons of science participated in the publication expenses of the last six volumes, each plate bearing the name of the person at whose cost it had been prepared."
The plate above comes from the Rylands Collection at the University of Manchester.
The complete or near complete series is available from the Internet Archive.
Update: alternatively, the University of Heidelberg have uploaded plates from the original German version of this work (curiously, I can't find the above image): LINK.

Armadillo IN 'An History of the Earth..' Oliver Goldsmith, 1774 (Rylands)

"Oliver Goldsmith's 'An History of the Earth and Animated Nature' [1774] has been described as everything from "hackwork" to his "most substantial literary legacy"." [source] Heh. I think I would be happy to leave behind a legacy that inspired such a broad reaction. The armadillo plate comes from Rylands.

Viaduct across the Sankey Valley

Viaduct across the Sankey Valley

Manchester across Water Street

Entrance into Manchester across Water Street

I had read about 'Coloured Views on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway' by Thomas Talbot Bury (1831) which was how I came to be ferreting about in the Rylands Collection in the first place. The book was published in many editions with varying numbers of aquatint plates, but as far as I can tell, the full work has not been digitised. [see here and here]
"The Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened September 15, 1830, and was the first to use locomotive power wholly as a form of traction. The 31-mile journey took an hour and a half and cost 5/. It was a great success and spurred construction of railroads in England and abroad. The locomotive engine was designed by George Stephenson, who won a £500 prize. The artist, Thomas Bury, was a noted architect."

Skazanie - birds

Skazanie - wolves

Tale of the Rout of Mamai

The Battle of Kulikovo manuscript

'Skazanie o Mamaevom Poboishche'
(The Tale of the Rout of Mamai)

These unusual and interesting Russian manuscript illustrations come from a rare 17th century work held in the State Historical Museum* in Moscow. Scans of the manuscript were posted on the babs71 Livejournal page.

The British Library have a different version (Yates Thompson 51) with all the page images available:
"The Skazanie is a romance, composed in the 15th century, relating the struggle of the Muscovian Grand Prince, Dmitri Donskoj, against his Tartar opponent, Mamai. The central focus is the battle of Kulikovo (1380) at which Mamai was routed. The victory is presented in the context of a crusade and is couched in terms reminiscent of the contest between Gideon and the Midianites (Judges 7)."
History of Kulikovo Battle: "The Kulikovo battle of 1380 is the most important event in the history of the Medieval Russia, which to a great extent defined the further destiny of the Russian State. The battle on the Kulikovo field commenced the North-West Russia liberation from the Yoke of the Golden Horde." [also]
{thanks to languagehat for translation and background help ---- incidentally, languagehat is the co-author of 'Uglier Than a Monkey’s Armpit - Untranslatable insults, put-downs and curses from around the world': publisher; AmazonUK}

Christus Oratorium 1870 (MDZ)

This is my idea of found type: the 1870 sheet music cover from Franz Liszt's 'Christus Oratorium' [from BSB] [image has been moderately background cleaned]

'Boys Peeping at Nature' subscription ticket (Hogarth 1730) Rylands

'Boys Peeping at Nature'
subscription ticket by William Hogarth, 1830.
Notes from Rylands: "Subscription ticket, signed & sealed by Hogarth, issued to Samuel Hill in receipt of the first payment for 6 prints of 'A Harlot's Progress'. Hogarth features as the satyr lifting Nature's skirts & exposing parts previously ignored by art."

Evangelia Ottonis (late 10th cent.) Rylands

This exquisite celtic knotwork illuminated letter 'b' from the late 10th century, comes from a latin vellum manuscript known as 'Evangelia Ottonis'. The notes at Rylands mention that it is possibly Italian in origin.

German Runestone

In between contributing to the popular fairy tales of the early 1800s that made the Brothers Grimm a household name, the younger brother, Wilhelm, published a book on German rune stones in 1821 called 'Ueber Deutsche Runen', available from SICD. [previously]

Totentanz - Matthäus Merian

Danse Macabre - Basel

Dance of Death - Merian

Murals of the dance of death (danse macabre or totentanz) scenes were painted on walls in a church and a convent in Basel in the early to mid-1400s. They are important examples of the tradition since they are the link back to its medieval origins and also because they served as the inspiration for the classic iconography produced by Hans Holbein the Younger in his 'Imagines Mortis', first published in 1527.

The murals were eventually destroyed and the most faithful reproductions of the figures in those scenes were said to have been engraved by native Basel artist, Matthäus Merian, for his 1621 book 'Todtentanz, Wie Derselbe..'. As far as I know, the first full version of this work was made available online recently by the Bavarian State Library.

[see previously: Totentanz Blockbook; Heidelberger Totentanz; Death Becomes Her; Death's Dance; and also Morbid Anatomy's recent post on Holbein (via).]

Lucifer by Balthasar Caymox)

Lucifer (detail) by Balthasar Caymox
Engraving of Lucifer by Balthasar Caymox (Caimox) after Dante's 'The Divine Comedy' from the Virtuelles Kupferstichkabinett. The print is undated but judging from a previous illustration of his seen here, it was produced in the early 1600s. These images were spliced together from screencaps. [previously; also: see this Monster Brains post for more Dante devils from a 14th century Bodleian manuscript]

Other things...


Unknown said...

Does someone know what the script in the image tagged "wolves" is/says?

Karla said...

I think I sent you the two Czech links (what a surprise...), but the digitized periodicals page seems to have changed somewhat since I last looked. Suddenly I only seem to be able to get Zlatá Praha out of it... (then again maybe I'm doing something wrong as I HAVE A HEADACHE and can't think straight).

peacay said...

Well I've given you an attribution link on the ground plans. I thought I told you about the periodicals no? Eh. *shrug* You might be right about the content changing: when I checked back through emails some of your remarks didn't quite marry up with what was listed. I thought you had just been widening your commentary to related material. (that's the generous way of saying I didn't know what you were talking about)
/sideline talkfest

Karla said...

I don't know whether I was just brain-dead last night or whether something was screwy with the periodicals site. This morning it brought up the list just fine--go down below the big red message about the server and the "emergency regime," which may explain more than I think it does. (As for who found it first, well maybe you did as I don't remember how I learned about it, just that I've been using it for a couple of years now.)

For the non-Czech-readers, anything with "divadlo" or "divadel" in it relates to theater, Humoristické listy is worth a look, Světozor and Šibeničky have lots of pictures, Rozpravy Aventina was a cultural periodical and has lots of photos and cartoons scattered through. Some of the others are primarily text.

Ray Girvan said...

The 1643 Popemobile from LOL Manuscripts! is another good example for your quasi-biological tank set.

peacay said...

Heh. Thanks Ray, good call.

lotusgreen said...

i love that celtic book

and this conversation that followed

peacay said...

Dear Sean

Yes, your comment was deleted. This is because you decided to add a link to your site in the comment when your site has no relationship to this post.

I doubt that wearing night vision goggles and gobbling down a fistful of acid would help to establish any vague connection between your seven-odd token words, your link and the array of material in this post, but hey, maybe that's just me.

But don't be dissuaded from commenting: perhaps if you tried making some sort of actual contribution, adding some morsel of humour or some cogent observation, then the people who read down this far in the post would feel so moved by the light of your intellect that they would feel compelled to click on your user profile and follow you back to your homepage.

So unless a self-link is on-topic or contributes something of worth, it will be deleted.

This goes for anyone who wants to self-link to show that they are citing BibliOdyssey (unless it contributes something on-topic of value). There are a whole bunch of blog search engines out there through which I can find linkbacks. There is no need to make an announcement.

Because the next step is to turn comments off altogether.



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