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Illustrating Carnival: Remembering the Overlooked Artists Behind Early Mardi Gras

- February 7, 2018 in Art & Illustrations, carnival, costumes, Culture & History, fancy dress, Fat tuesday, Featured Articles, mardi gras, new orleans, new orleans mardi gras

For more than 150 years the city of New Orleans has been known for the theatricality and extravagance of its Mardi Gras celebrations. Allison C. Meier looks at the wonderfully ornate float and costume designs from Carnival's "Golden Age" and the group of New Orleans artists who created them.

Radical Fashion from the Schembart Carnival (1590)

- April 11, 2013 in carnival, collections, costume, Digital Copy: No Additional Rights, germany, Images, Images-16th, Images-Illumination, Images-People, mardi gras, nuremberg, UCLA Digital Library, Underlying Work: PD Worldwide

Illustrations from a 16th century manuscript detailing the phenomenon of Nuremberg’s Schembart Carnival, (literally “bearded-mask” carnival). Beginning in 1449, the event was popular throughout the 15th century but was ended in 1539 due to the complaints of an influential preacher named Osiander who objected to his effigy being paraded on a float, depicting him playing backgammon surrounded by fools and devils. According to legend, the carnival had its roots in a dance (a “Zämertanz”) which the butchers of Nuremberg were given permission to hold by the Emperor as a reward for their loyalty amid a trade guild rebellion. Over the years the event took on a more subversive tone, evolving to let others take part with elaborate costumes displayed and large ships on runners, known as “Hells”, which were paraded through the streets. After its end, many richly illustrated manuscripts (known as “Schembartbücher”) were made detailing the carnival’s 90 year existence. We are unsure what the flaming “artichokes” are all about, if any one has a clue do let us know in the comments! UPDATE solved – according to Christies: “They brandished lances and bunches of leaves – known as Lebensrute — that concealed fireworks.” UCLA Digital Library Underlying Work: [...]

Hand book of the carnival, containing Mardi-Gras, its ancient and modern observance (1874)

- February 21, 2012 in carnival, mardi gras, Mistick Krewe of Comus, new orleans mardi gras, non-article, texts, The Knights of Momus, Twelfth Night Revellers


Hand book of the carnival, containing Mardi-Gras, its ancient and modern observance, by J. W. Madden; 1874; New Orleans.

Fascinating little book offering a brilliantly detailed insight into the 19th century New Orleans Mardi-Gras tradition, including a history of the Mistick Krewe of Comus, The Twelfth Night Revellers, and The Knights of Momus.

From Wikipedia: In Greek mythology, Comus or Komos (Ancient Greek: Κῶμος) is the god of festivity, revels and nocturnal dalliances. He is a son and a cup-bearer of the god Bacchus. Comus represents anarchy and chaos. His mythology occurs in the later times of antiquity. During his festivals in Ancient Greece, men and women exchanged clothes. He was depicted as a young man on the point of unconsciousness from drink. He had a wreath of flowers on his head and carried a torch that was in the process of being dropped.

"Female Eye", costume design, Krewe of Comus, New Orleans Mardi Gras, 1869


New Orleans Mardi Gras, 1916. Depiction of Comus parade float with art theme.


New Orleans Mardi Gras 1907. Illustration of King's float of Comus parade.



Open Library link



Letters From a Cat (1879)

Castaway on the Auckland Isles: A Narrative of the Wreck of the "Grafton," (1865)


Infant's Cabinet of Birds and Beasts (1820)

Old French Fairytales (1920)

Armata: a fragment (1817)

An Account of the Late Improvements in Galvanism (1803)

The Medical Aspects of Death, and the Medical Aspects of the Human Mind (1852)

Quarles' Emblems (1886)

Cat and bird stories from the "Spectator" (1896)

Wonderful Balloon Ascents (1870)

The Book of Topiary (1904)

The Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (1899)

English as She is Spoke (1884)

The Danger of Premature Interment (1816)

The Last American (1889)

Pirates (1922)

Napoleon's Oraculum (1839)

Horse Laughs (1891)

Hydriotaphia/Urn-Burial and The Garden of Cyrus (1658)

Across the Zodiac: the Story of a Wrecked Record (1880)

Superstitions About Animals (1904)

The Diary of a Nobody (1919 edition)

The Attitudes of Animals in Motion, Illustrated with the Zoopraxiscope (1882)

The Eccentric Mirror: Reflecting a Faithful and Interesting Delineation of Male and Female Characters, Ancient and Modern (1807)

Uriah Jewett and the Sea Serpent of Lake Memphemagog (1917)

Yuletide Entertainments (1910)

Mythical Monsters (1886)

Madame Tussaud's Napoleon Relics, Pictures and Other Curiosities (1901)

James Joyce's Chamber Music (1918 American Edition)

Original acrostics on all the U.S. states and presidents, and various other subjects (1861)

Hand book of the carnival, containing Mardi-Gras, its ancient and modern observance (1874)

Selection of Type is just as important as the selection of words (1939?)

Natural History of Shakespeare; Being Selections of Flowers, Fruits, and Animals (1877)

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