Art//Archives: An Avian Extravaganza

Today’s visual research open hours (Tuesdays, 10:00 – 1:00) offer you an avian extravaganza, an ornithological assemblage, a great number of illustrated birds!

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This lovely, bespectacled fellow hails from E. Donovan’s 1794 The Natural History of British Birds; Or, a Selection of the Most Rare, Beautiful, and Interesting Birds Which Inhabit This Country: The Descriptions from the Systema Naturae of Linnaeus; With General Observations, Either Original, or Collected From the Latest and Most Esteemed English Ornithologists; and Embellished with Figures, Drawn, Engraved, and Coloured from the Original Specimens. (Say that five times fast!)

Today’s visitors also can page through this book on “cage and chamber-birds”. It includes information on “their natural history, habits, food, diseases, management, and modes of capture”. (A researcher yesterday deemed this book “kind of awesome and kind of a bummer,” which I find to be entirely accurate.)

Studer’s Popular Ornithology, published in 1881, has beautiful, large-scale, color illustrations of birds, as well as a spectacular title page. (Does the “A” in the word “America” look vaguely masonic to anyone else?)

Stop by to spend some time with these books today, or contact us to make an appointment with these feathered friends.

Bad Children of History #22: Holiday Hellions

Today’s terrible young folks are taken from Randolph Caldecott’s Gleanings from the “Graphic” (London: Routledge, 1889). (Yes, this is the Caldecott of the annual Caldecott Medal; he was an influential 19th century children’s book illustrator, and also illustrated novels and magazines and made “humorous drawings”.)

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The illustration above comes from a series called Christmas Visitors. The “old folks” are playing cards in a previous drawing, while these “young folks” are taking part in a jumble of juvenile antics: aggressively kissing a lass’s cheek beneath the mistletoe, crying and/or somersaulting backwards, pushing a blindfolded old man in knee socks, crab-walking away from the blindfolded old man in knee socks, and tickling the back of the knee of the old man in knee socks.

Nothing–and I mean nothing–says Christmas like a blindfolded old man in knee socks.

 

Your Portals Syllabus

We’re hard at work on our spring exhibition and event series, “Portals: The History of the Future,” and in the process we’ve been coming across books, movies, and other stuff that gets us in the Portals spirit. So we decided to share some suggested reading (and listening, and watching…) here. We’re also going to post this (and update it) on the Portals website, which should be live soon.

Portals: Recommended Reading (And Watching, and Listening)

Short Reads

  • William Gibson, “The Gernsback Continuum” (1981). Available in the collection Burning Chrome. Ocean State Libraries (Text can also be found online.)
  • Wikipedia entry for Charles Piazzi Smyth, particularly the “Pyramidological researches” section. For a sense of the range of schemes proposed during the debate over unified time.
  • Edmund Arthur Engler, “Time-Keeping in Paris,” Popular Science Monthly, vol. 20 (1882). Online

Long Reads

  • Paul J. Nahin, Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1999). For the nitty-gritty details of how to keep your time machine in working order. WorldCat
  • I.F. Clarke, The Pattern of Expectation, 1644-2001 (New York: Basic Books, 1979). WorldCat
  • Joseph J. Corn & Brian Horrigan, Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996). Ocean State Libraries
  • Peter Galison, Einstein’s Clocks, Poincare’s Maps: Empires of Time (New York: W.W. Norton: 2003). PPL
  • Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014). PPL

Podcasts

Music

  • Sun Ra Arkestra – The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra
  • Joseph Haydn – Il Mondo della Luna
  • Joe Meek – I Hear a New World
  • Bjork – Biophilia

Film & Television

Bad Children of History #21: Squirrely Charlie

Today’s Bad Child of History comes from Maria H. Bulfinch’s 1867 volume Frank Stirling’s Choice. His name is Charlie, and while it’s not 100% clear what he’s doing in this illustration, it obviously isn’t something a responsible adult would condone.

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Is Charlie climbing the furniture while wielding a Vienna sausage on a chopstick? Is his upright posture defying the laws of physics? Why is he gesturing at that rustic, twiggy cross? What does Frank think of this whole endeavor?

Frank Stirling’s Choice also contains one of the best footnotes I’ve seen in 2016:

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Blurring the lines between fact and fiction, folks.

Art//Archives Sneak Peek: As Days Go By

We’ve recently pulled a selection of calendars and almanacs as source material for a top-secret* creative collaboration.

*It’s not actually that secret, but “as-yet unpublicized” doesn’t sound quite as thrilling.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) from 10-1, during our weekly Art//Archives visual research open hours, we’ll have these books on display for your reference and enjoyment.

The most visually stimulating of the bunch is undoubtedly the 1866 The Life of Man, Symbolised by the Months of the Year in a Series of Illustrations by John Leighton, F.S.A. and Pourtrayed in Their Seasons and Phases, with Passages Selected from Ancient and Modern Authors by Richard Pigot.

The oversized book has an illustration for each month of the year:

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I’m a real sucker for the wings of time-themed frame. Also, look at that emaciated wolf-like animal and the “tender offspring” who is completely lacking seasonally-appropriate attire, presumably as he was just “rescued from the snow”.

Each month’s facing page shows the corresponding age of man:

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These are followed by a selection of seasonally-appropriate quotes and poems set in a variety of type faces:

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Here’s a particularly good wintry poem:

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The January chapter ends with this impressive seasonal crest of sorts:

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Stop by tomorrow if you’d like to see what typographic and artistic delights the other 11 months hold!

Very Merry

The winter solstice has passed, Christmas is nearly upon us, and we’ve been enjoying some of the seasonal cultural artifacts found here in Special Collections. Read on for an assortment of favorites:

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The illustration above, from Roger Duvoisin’s 1945 The Christmas Whale, shows a crowd of seals, polar bears, birds, and a lone human waving goodbye to Santa’s cetacean gift-delivery service. Look at those polar bears’ little tails!

For those of you more interested in, say, spending the winter months skiing while wearing a silky turban, we offer you this cover from a December 1939 issue of Vogue:

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Our Updike History of Print collection contains an interesting 1951 reprint of Nicholas Breton’s The Twelve Moneths and Christmas Day, set in Riverside Caslon and illustrated with pseudo-Greek decorations.

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(Nothing says Christmas like a flute, identical twin ducks, a turkey on a leash, figgy pudding in a fire pit, and an extremely small yet muscular man striding confidently through the scene.)

For those of you who can’t get enough historical Christmas images, I highly recommend checking out the American Antiquarian Society’s digital exhibit on chromolithographer Louis Prang, known as “the father of the Christmas card”. They have some beautiful Christmas- and winter-themed images featured on their Instagram, as well.

 

New Exhibition: Paintings by Scott Kelley

PPL is thrilled to present a series of gorgeous nautical paintings by Maine artist Scott Kelley, inspired by Kelley’s research in our extensive collection of whaling logbooks.

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Scott Kelley is an artist who lives on Peaks Island, Maine with his wife Gail, son Abbott, dog Francis, and an imaginary pig named Lunchbox. He received a BFA from the Cooper Union School of Art in 1986 and has studied at The Slade School of Art, London and The Glassel School of Art, Houston. He is represented by Dowling Walsh Gallery, Rockland, ME and W.M. Brady & Co, NY.

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The paintings will be on display on the 3rd floor of the library from December 21, 2015 until February 12, 2016. The exhibit can be viewed during the library’s regular open hours.