Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Antique Skeleton Bookplates

From a series of letterpress bookplates entitled "Dread of Death;" you can find them on the Manifesto Letterpress webpage, home to many things macabre, antique, and letter-pressy.

Found via one the wonderful Bioephemera website.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Géza Szöllősi, 21st Century

Hungarian artist Géza Szöllősi has a number of intriguing art projects showcased on his website szollosi.eu, including a number of anatomical sculptures rendered in the medium of pork meat (third and fourth down). Thanks so much to Zsófia Keresztes for sending this along.

Friday, August 22, 2008

"Miss Baldwin, A Modern Witch Of Endor, Color Woodcut," 1870

I have always loved the nefarious imagery used in early magic posters, where performers are visually linked to the devil or the spirit world; I came across this wonderful example on the Monster Brains website. Kitty Baldwin sounds like a pretty interesting lady; she seems to have had a variety of occult-themed acts with a variety of elaborate titles, one of which was "The Famous Rosicrucian Somnambulist."

For more, see the original post on Monster Brains. All biographical information from Who's Who in Magic History. Found via Outrepart.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Popular Anatomy, 19th Century Style

It is, indeed, not such a collection as the timid would care to visit at midnight, and alone. Fancy the pale moonlight lighting up with a bluish tinge, the blanched skeletons and grinning skulls — the same moon that saw, in many a case, the death-blow given, or the bullet pierce. The thought is not a comforting one, and those fancies would not be calculated, at such a time, to inspire courage. But in broad daylight, with the sun shining outside, and brightening up, with its tinge of life and activity, the tessellated floor, with the noise and traffic of the street outside, and the hum and murmur of numerous clerks and attendants inside, even those of timid proclivities do not then hesitate to inspect closely and with curiosity the objects which, twelve hours later, when the building is dark and deserted, they would scarce care to approach.

Both the text (from a 19th Century journal) and image above are from a recent fascinating post about the history of the National Museum of Health and Medicine, back when it was called The Army Medical Museum and was housed in the Ford Theatre--yes, the same one which hosted the assasination of President Lincoln! Back then, it was a popular museum attracting throngs of respectable, middle-class victorians (see above). Check out the whole post (and see more images) on the always engrossing Bottled Monsters blog.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Seeking Collectors of Medical Curiosities, Ephemera, and Artifacts U.K. Addendum

My search continues for privately held collections of medical curiosities, ephemera, and artifacts to photograph for an upcoming exhibition to be held at Barrister's Gallery in New Orleans. If any of you quiet collectors out there happen to be located in England or Scotland and are open to having your collections photographed for this exhibition--anonymity respected if desired--I would love to hear from you. I will be in the UK for much of September. If you are interested in knowing more this project and its scope, see this recent post.

And on a related note--if any readers have recommendations for things that should be seen, heard, or tasted in the UK, please let me know!

You can email me at morbidanatomy@gmail.com.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

"The Dances of Death Through the Various Stages...," Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543)

The curator of the John Martin Rare Book Room of the University of Iowa just alerted me to a new addition to their online collection of historical medical texts--Hans Holbien's The dances of death through the various stages of human life: wherein the capriciousness of that tyrant is exhibited... The version featured is an 1803 republication by Scottish artist and engraver David Deuchar, who made copperplates based on Holbein's work. Great stuff, as you can see by the above images.

For more about the book, click here. To see the complete digital book, including many more wonderful illustrations, click here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Seeking Collectors of Medical Curiosities, Ephemera, or Artifacts!

As some of you already know, I recently mounted an exhibition called Anatomical Theatre: Depictions of The Body, Disease, and Death in Medical Museums of the Western World, a photographic survey (see above) of artifacts held in great medical museums of Europe and the United States. This blog is an offshoot of that project.

For my next project, I would like to photograph similar types of curiosities, ephemera, and artifacts, but in this case only those residing in private rather than public collections. If any of you out there have collections that you think might be of interest, or know of anyone else who might, I would love to hear from you. All leads appreciated! All locations considered!

Thanks! You can email me at morbidanatomy@gmail.com.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mourning and Funerary Artifact Exhibition, Slifer House, Lewisburg PA

When visiting my sister in Lewisburg, PA a few weeks ago, we visited an exhibition entitled "Gone, But Not Forgotten: Death & Mourning in Victorian America"--an assemblage of mourning and funerary artifacts drawn from the collection of Galen Betzer, proprietor of Galen R. Betzer Funeral Services, being held at the Slifer Historic House Museum.

The exhibition seeks to explore the customs surrounding death and mourning in the 19th Century; the historical house is draped in black crepe, as if a cherished family member (in this case, family patriarch Eli Slifer) had just died, and each room in the 19th Century mansion features other evidence of mourning, each one painstakingly pointed out and explained by the tour guide.

The exhibit culminates in a small room packed full of mourning and funerary artifacts drawn from Galen's vast and broad collection. This room is filled with an entrancing breadth and magnitude of artifacts such as hair art, mourning stationary, "tear catchers," funeral souvenirs, memorial photographs, a variety of goreyesque hearse designs (see above), hair and other memorial jewelry, coffin plates, mourning clothing, and antique funerary trade literature and promotional materials. The Centerpiece is a small child's coffin, and an elaborate children's hearse dominates the front porch of the house.

All photos above from the exhibition; see the complete set of photographs here. You can find out more information about the exhibition and related events and lectures here. For more information on artworks related to mourning, check out Curious Expedition's recent post The Art of Mourning.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Mark Powell, 20th Century

I just stumbled upon the miniature, anatomically-inspired dioramas of Melbourne based artist Mark Powell. His work really reminds me of anatomical waxworker Gaentano Guilio Zumbo's miniature waxwork fantasias on decay, death and disease (see Curious Expeditions for more on that.)

You can visit Powell's website here, and see more of his work on his Flickr page.

Via Art Diabolique.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Tod Browning's "Freaks" (1932) Downloadable at Archive.org!

The 1932 Tod Browning classic film "Freaks" is now available for download on Rick Prelinger's wonderful Archive.org website. Tod Browning is most famous for his direction of "Dracula" (1931) starring Bela Lugosi; the cinematic release of "Freaks" made him infamous. And it is not hard to figure out why. From the Wikipedia description:
...the film concerns a love triangle between a wealthy dwarf, a gold-digging aerialist, and a strongman; a murder plot; and the vengeance dealt out by the dwarf and his fellow circus freaks. The film was highly controversial, even after heavy editing to remove many disturbing scenes, and was a commercial failure. Browning's career was derailed.

Download the film (and see for yourself) here.

Via Hugo Strikes Back and Boing Boing.