Poly-Olbion is a cycle of 30 poems describing England and Wales, county by county, composed by Michael Drayton in the late 16th and early 17th Centuries. It was published in two parts, 1612 and 1622, along with sumptuous black and white maps engraved by William Hole meant to be colored in by its buyers. Now Poly-Olbion will be republished as a coloring book entitled Albions Glorious Ile. The Poly-Olbion Project website is worth exploring, as well as its blog and tumblr.
Flaisch macht Flaisch: Instructions unclear, cat's got my dick. mlkshk and Reddit explain a 16th century German nun joke. [more inside]
Selected pages from Adriaen Coenen's Visboek, an illustrated guide to the strange and wonderful world of fish. No sixteenth-century mariner should leave shore without it. The National Library of the Netherlands has the complete book, with commentary.
"The Cranach Digital Archive is an interdisciplinary collaborative research resource, providing access to art historical, technical and conservation information on paintings by Lucas Cranach (c.1472 - 1553) and his workshop. The repository presently provides information on more than 400 paintings including c.5000 images and documents from 19 partner institutions."
The Brilliant Line explores the techniques of Renaissance and Baroque engravers. This interactive exhibit shows how layers of lines become art. (Flash.) [more inside]
John Dowland was a lute player and composer roughly contemporaneous with William Shakespeare. In a recent article Mark Padmore, a frequent performer of Dowland's work, compared Dowland to Morrissey and Bob Dylan. Whether that's accurate or not johndowland.co.uk is a fine website with many recordings available either in mp3 format or as videos. There are essays on the site but it also points towards many other Dowlandian treasures online, including this fine biography and lyrics. Among Dowland's best known works are Flow, My Tears, Stay, Time, Awhile and An Heart Thats Broken and Contrite [mp3 links] but my favorites are In Darknesse Let Mee Dwell and Sorrow Stay [YouTube]
The Morgan Museum currently have an exhibition featuring the 1517 Prayer Book of Claude de France, a gorgeous miniature (2.75 x 2 inches) illuminated manuscript, together with the Prayerbook of Claude's mother, Anne de Bretagne. [via]
In the town of Bomarzo in central Italy you will find Monster's Grove, a vast sculpture garden created in 1552 by Pier Orisini to be a unique & astonishing place. The scupltures are quite large, and some are carved directly into the bedrock; as the name might indicate, the subjects are mainly mythical creatures. For centuries, the stone was uncared for, and nature began to reclaim the art, until the 1970s when efforts began to preserve the pieces, and today it is a major tourist attraction, though still privately owned nearly five centuries in.