History

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Design History

In 1848 A French Commune Built an Interconnected Treehouse Cabaret Based on Swiss Family Robinson

February 20, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

For over a century, Parisians were drawn out of the city and into the neighboring village of Le Plessis-Piquet to experience charming summer evenings among the township’s tall trees. What started as open air dancehalls called “guinguettes,” turned into treehouse cabarets after restaurant proprietor Joseph Gueusquin built Le Grand Robinson in 1848.

Inspired by the treehouse described in The Swiss Family Robinson, the unique establishment hoisted visitors to the top branches of a thick chestnut tree to dine dozens of feet above their fellow revelers. Over the next few decades copycat restaurants began popping up in trees across town, hosting donkey races and building tall tree swings to persuade diners away from their numerous competitors. This crop of new treetop guinguettes forced Gueusquin to rename his lounge “Le Vrai de Arbre Robinson” (The Real Robinson Tree) in 1888, which ensured customers knew they were dining at the original treehouse of Le Plessis-Piquet.

In 1909, after 60 years of booming success with the popular treehouses, the town changed its name to Le Plessis-Robinson. Today none of the Parisian suburb’s treetop bars remain (the last shut its doors in 1976), however the memory of treetop revelry remains in the few forgotten boards tacked to the town’s tall trees. (via Jeroen Apers)

 

 



Design History Science

Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours: a Pre-Photographic Guide for Artists and Naturalists

January 31, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

First published in the pre-photographic age, Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours was the preeminent guide to color and its classification for artists, scientists, naturalists, and anthropologists in the 19th-century. Without an image for reference, the book provided immense handwritten detail describing where each specific shade could be found on an animal, plant, or mineral. Prussian Blue for instance could be located in the beauty spot of a mallard’s wing, on the stamina of a bluish-purple anemone, or in a piece of blue copper ore.

The system of classification was first devised by German mineralogist Abraham Gottlob Werner in the late 18th-century. Shortly after Scottish painter Patrick Syme updated Werner’s guide, matching color swatches and his own list of examples to the provided nomenclature.

The book’s poetic names, such as Arterial Blood Red, Berlin Blue, and Verdigris Green, added flourish to the writings of many researchers, allowing vivid descriptions for prose which had previously been limited to a more elementary color palette. Charles Darwin even used the guide during his voyage to the Madeira, Canary, and Cape Verde islands on the H.M.S. Beagle.

The 1814 book has now been republished by Smithsonian Books as a pocket-sized guide, providing a historic connection to vivid colors found in the field for a future generation of artists, scientists, and curious naturalists. You can preorder the 2018 hardcover for its release date on February 6, 2018.  (via Co.Design)

 

 



History Photography

A Norwegian University Student Used a Spy Camera in This Amazing Example of 19th Century Street Photography

January 2, 2018

Christopher Jobson

All images courtesy the Norwegian Folk Museum.

Fredrik Carl Mülertz Størmer is known mostly as an accomplished mathematician and physicist from Norway, but as a side hobby he was also an amateur photographer, taking to the streets of Oslo with a bulky camera secreted in his clothing to capture candid moments of unsuspecting passersby. Most of his photos were taken in the 1890s while Størmer was a 19-year-old student at the Royal Frederick University using a Stirn Concealed Vest Spy Camera, a secretive camera with a narrow lens designed to poke through a vest pocket’s buttonhole.

Størmer’s photography stands in stark contrast to portraiture of the era that consisted mainly of staid and unsmiling images against decorative backdrops. Here we see a rare view of people going about their daily lives nearly 125 years ago, often smiling and perhaps caught off guard from the young student angling for the shot. To see more of Størmer’s work head over to Norwegian Folkmuseum. (via Bored Panda)

 

 



Design History Photography

The Wild Architecture of Soviet-Era Bus Stops Photographed by Christopher Herwig

December 6, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

Photographer Christopher Herwig has circled the former Soviet Union, exploring the most remote areas of Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine to find and photograph its unique bus stops. After the success of his first book Soviet Bus Stops, he decided to explore the subject matter again for his new follow-up collection Soviet Bus Stops Volume II. In this book Herwig focuses on Russia rather than its former Soviet counterparts, driving nearly 10,000 miles around the massive country finding its incredibly diverse transportation shelters.

These architectural forms are more deeply explored in a forward by architecture and culture critic Owen Hatherley, who details the government policies that have allowed the bus stops to remain. You can view more of the Jordan-based photographer’s work on his website and Vimeo. (via Design You Trust)

 

 



Art Design History

Art Enamel Pins Inspired by the Masters

November 24, 2017

Christopher Jobson

The Pin Museum has a great selection of enamel pins featuring images lifted from iconic paintings and sculptures from Dali to Van Gogh. Their current lineup includes over a dozen different designs, all available in their online shop.

Update: Select Pin Museum styles are now available in the Colossal Shop.

 

 



Animation History Photography

Surreal Animated Photos and Artworks by Nicolas Monterrat

November 21, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Illustrator and animator Nicolas Monterrat (previously) has brought his wild imagination to historical photographs and artworks that he sets in motion and shares on Ello. The short animations blend images borrowed from old catalogues, newspapers, and textbooks with snippets of abstract footage to create collage-like images that range from humorous to downright terrifying. You can follow more from the Paris-based artist on Tumblr. (via Cross Connect)

 

 



Art History

An Astonishingly Small Stone Carving That Has the Power to Change Art History

November 10, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

The Pylos Combat Agate, an intricately carved 3,500-year-old sealstone discovered in a the tomb of a Greek warrior. All images courtesy of The Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati

More than two years ago researchers from the University of Cincinnati unearthed a 3,500-year-old tomb in the southwest of Greece. The tomb belonged to a Bronze Age warrior nicknamed the “Griffin Warrior,” and contained many treasures, such as four gold signet rings, that have challenged previous notions about the origins of Greek civilization.

Perhaps one of the most important and visually captivating finds from the tomb occurred a full year after its discovery. Researchers uncovered a carved sealstone no larger than an inch and a half wide. The “Pylos Combat Agate” meticulously displays two warriors engaged in battle with bodies strewn at their feet, with some details less than a millimeter wide. The carving is perhaps most astonishing because it predates artistic skills that were not associated with Greek civilization for another millennium.

“What is fascinating is that the representation of the human body is at a level of detail and musculature that one doesn’t find again until the classical period of Greek art 1,000 years later,” said Jack Davis, Carl W. Blegen professor of Greek archaeology at the University of Cincinnati in UC Magazine. “It’s a spectacular find.”

In a testament to the anonymous artist’s skills, it’s also worthy to note that magnifying glasses were not believed to be used for another thousand years. This ability and sophistication shows that the inhabitants of the area were creating art with an interest and knowledge of representational art not previously imagined. This new discovery, explained Davis and fellow dig leader Shari Stocker, is a catalyst to completely reevaluate the timeline and development of Greek art.

You can read more about the miniature carving and the Griffin Warrior’s tomb in UC Magazine. (via Neatorama and The History Blog)

 

 

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