When I was a kid, my weird and wonderful mother used to amuse us by picking up the cat and pretending to play it like a bagpipe, using its tail as a mouthpiece. Her improvised feline instrument has, sadly, been upstaged by my discovery of the Katzenklavier, a Cat-Piano (also known as a cat organ) dreamed up in the 16th century.
This very rare doll from the early nineteenth century demonstrates a very innovative design for its day: a wheel of legs which allow the doll to ‘walk’ when it is pushed across the floor. The doll would have originally been costumed in a long dress to hide the leg mechanism, so only two walking feet would have shown at a time. The value of this remarkable hand-carved doll, with its enamel eyes, coiled chignon, jointed arms and delicately painted features, […]
Palmistry, also known as chiromancy, is the art of interpreting lines on the hand to evaluate someone’s character or foretell their future. The history of palm reading is uncertain, but may have originated in India in Hindu astrology, and spread to China, Tibet, Persia, Egypt and Ancient Greece, at least partly through the traditional fortune-telling practices of the Romani people. After falling into disrepute due to its associations with magic and witchcraft during the middle ages, interest in palmistry saw a […]
I’m so unsettled and captivated by this incredible photograph of wax figures burnt and melted after the massive 1925 fire that destroyed Madame Tussauds wax museum in London. I think wax models alone are already pretty creepy, but I don’t think even the Chamber of Horrors can touch the pathos of this unintentionally gruesome scene. With missing heads and appendages, charred skin and clothing in disarray, the uncanny wax models truly look like the causalities of some great trauma. I’ve […]
These wonderful papier-mâché anatomical models of bees were made around 1875 by Dr. Louis Thomas Jerôme Auzoux (1797-1880). As a medical student in France in the early nineteenth-century, Auzoux was frustrated by the lack of real cadavers and the expense and delicacy of wax models to study anatomy. After his graduation from medical school in 1818, the young doctor began experimenting with the creation of anatomical models, inspired by a visit to the papier-mâché workshop of Jean Francois Ameline in […]
If you haven’t already seen it, I strongly suggest you read about the fascinating Hidden Mothers phenomena in Victorian photography, and its possible relationship to the tradition of post-mortem photography. Amsterdam-based fashion photographers/artists Anuschka Blommers and Niels Schumm have put a morbid contemporary twist on the history of this imagery, recycling the aesthetic conventions of hidden mother and post-mortem photography into a commercial kid’s wear fashion shoot. In the first part of Blommers and Schumm’s ‘Kidswear’ series, an anonymous figure […]