“What I see is nothing – I want what it hides – that is not nothing.”
― Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
Ernst Haeckel, ‘Ascidiae’ , Plate 85 from ‘Kunstformen der Natur (Artforms of Nature) , published 1904
(via The Library of Congress, Washington DC) – Buy it here
Thousands of people eagerly await Stephen Ellcock’s next image posted to his Facebook page. He regular uploads a cornucopia of curated, provocative, slyly subversive and skilfully sequenced albums of themed images. It’s joyful. It’s an education – an online museum of images, visual delights, oddities and wonders drawn from every conceivable culture, era and corner of the globe.
Three Crows against the Rising Sun, from the series Three Sheets (Mihira no uchi) by Totoya Hokkei (1780 – 1850) , part of an album of woodblock prints (surimono) , ink and colour on paper, Japan, mid 1810s
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Buy it here.
Full disclosure: I love Stephen’s work so much I’ve partnered with him to try some of the wonderful gems he discovers and rediscovers on your walls. You can pick up some beauty for your place or the home of someone you love here. But first, a luscious book from a man who deserves to succeed…
Stephen has now finally published his first bona fide book, gathering several hundred of the finest images he could find into a single volume inspired by both the natural world and human endeavour. Its title, ALL GOOD THINGS, comes from the first ever encyclopedia created in England – Omne Bonum (All Good Things) by the 14th century clerk James le Palmer.
Stephen’s book evokes the medieval tradition of exquisite, illuminated manuscripts – beginning with the act of Creation and travelling through the realms of sky, sea, earth, science and humanity before ending amongst the angels, demons, visions of Paradise and glimpses of a better world that have so preoccupied artists over the centuries.
Each chapter is prefaced by a reworked and rewoven fable, parable or myth from twelve different cultural, philosophical and religious traditions. The text is interspersed with carefully selected quotes from an international cast of poets, philosophers, scientists, visionaries, artists and cranks.
The Chromatic Scale , Table 5 , from A New Elucidation of Colour by James Sowerby, etching , watercolour and gum Arabic. London, 1809 – Wellcome Collection, London. Buy it here.
A Young Daughter of the Picts by Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues (French ca. 1533-88), watercolour and gouache, touched with gold on parchment, ca. 1588
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
The Tree of Life – Tapestry, English, first half of 17th century Canvas worked with silk thread; tent, Gobelin, and couching stitches.
(The Victoria and Albert Museum, London)
J.V. Krombholz (1782 – 1843), Plate from ‘Lifelike Illustrations and descriptions of edible Mushrooms’. Published 1831
(via the Library of The Missouri Botanical Gardens )
Tile with two rabbits, two snakes and a tortoise, illustration for thirteenth-century Marvels of Things Created and Miraculous Aspects of Things Existing byZakariya al-Qazwini, earthenware, moulded and underglaze-painted decoration, Iran, nineteenth century – Musée du Louvre, Paris. Buy it here.
Design for Mozart’s The Magic Flute: The Hall of Stars in the Palace of the Queen of the Night, Act 1, Scene 6.
Aquatint printed in colour and hand coloured, print by Karl Friedrich Thiele, after Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s original production designs from 1816, 1847–49 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Buy it here.
Leonid meteor shower over Niagara Falls. Illustration from Edmund Weiss, Bilder-Atlas der Sternenwelt [Image atlas of the star world], Stuttgart, 1892 – The Smithsonian Library, Washington DC. Buy it here.
A fold out page from the ‘Iskandar Horoscope’ showing the position of the planets at the moment of Jalāl al-Dīn Iskandar Sultan ibn ‘Umar Shaykh’s birth on 25th April , 1384 CE in the form of a planisphere. Buy it here.
Walter Yaggy, Geological Chart , From Yaggy’s Geographical Portfolio, published 1893 by C.F. Rassweiler & Co. Chicago . Chromolithograph. An Educational chart for use in the classroom
(The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, San Francisco)
All Good Things by Stephen Ellcock , published by September Publishing , Hardback ˑ £20 , $24.95 Available now from all good bookshops and online retailers. Buy it here.
For those of you who want these images and more on your walls, the Flashbak Shop is here.