Enter The Madman’s Gallery and discover an extraordinary, illustrated exhibition of the greatest curiosities from the global history of art, featuring one hundred magnificently eccentric antique paintings, engravings, illustrations, and sculptures, each with a fascinatingly bizarre story to tell.
Brought to light from the depths of libraries, museums, dealers, and galleries around the world, these forgotten artistic treasures include portraits of oddballs such as the British explorer with a penchant for riding crocodiles, and the Italian monk who levitated so often he’s recognized as the patron saint of airplane passengers. Discover impossible medieval land yachts, floating churches, and eagle-powered airships. Encounter dog-headed holy men, armies of German giants, 18th-century stuntmen, human chessboards, screaming ghost heads, and more marvels of the human imagination. A captivating odditorium of obscure and engaging characters and works, each expertly brought to life by historian and curator of the strange Edward Brooke-Hitching, here is a richly illustrated and entertaining gallery for lovers of outré art and history.
A GLOBAL SURVEY: Here are European painters who used ground up Egyptian mummies as pigment, examples of the antique Japanese art of Gyotaku (fish stone rubbings) using dried fish as printing plates, a Parisian art hoax featuring paintings actually created by a chimpanzee, and much more.
ODDITIES ABOUND: Depictions of the demon worms believed to cause toothaches carved into human molars: Check. A nude version of the Mona Lisa painted by the “bad boy” apprentice of Leonardo da Vinci: Here it is. The most admiring portrait of a cannibal likely ever produced: Presented in full color.
EXPERT AUTHOR: Edward Brooke-Hitching is a master of taking visually driven deep dives into unusual historical subjects, such as the maps of imaginary geography in The Phantom Atlas or ancient pathways through the stars in The Sky Atlas, imaginative depictions of heavens, hells, and afterworlds in The Devil’s Atlas, and the strangest books imaginable in The Madman’s Library.
- Fans of beautifully illustrated works, art history, and unusual world atlas collections
- Readers of quirky history such as Schott’s Miscellany, Atlas Obscura, and the wildly popular QI series (for which the author is a writer and researcher)
- Gift for a graduate, teacher, or student of world history, art history, library science, archeology, sociology, or any discipline engaged in the exploration of curiosities and human nature
About the Author
Edward Brooke-Hitching is the author of beautifully illustrated non-fiction titles such as The Phantom Atlas, The Sky Atlas, The Devil's Atlas, and The Madman's Library. A writer for the hit BBC television show QI and a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, he lives in a dusty heap of old books and maps in London.
"What [Brooke—Hitching's] last book did for bibliophiles, this new, beautifully produced and elegantly written anthology does for art lovers, offering ‘an alternative guided tour of art history’, focusing on the ‘forgotten’ and the ‘freakish’."
"In this beautifully illustrated tome, Edward Brooke-Hitching explains some of art history’s most unique works of art—many of which you probably have never seen"