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The Madman's Gallery

The Strangest Paintings, Sculptures and Other Curiosities From the History of Art

About The Book

Enter The Madman's Gallery - the perfect gift book for any art lover. Discover an eccentric exploration through the curious history of art, to find the strangest paintings, sculptures, drawings and other artistic oddities ever made.

From the author of the bestseller The Madman’s Library (SundayTimes Literature Book of the Year 2020, Radio 4 Book of the Week) comes an extraordinary new illustrated collection. This unique exhibition gathers more than a hundred magnificent works, each chosen for their striking beauty, weirdness and captivating story behind their creation.

Obscure and forgotten treasures sit alongside famous masterpieces with secret stories to tell. Here are Doom paintings, screaming sculptures, magical manuscripts, impossible architecture, dog-headed saints, angel musketeers and the first portrait of a cannibal. Stolen art, outsider art, ghost art, revenge art, and art painted at the bottom of the sea take their place alongside scandalous art, forgeries and hoaxes, art of dreams and nightmares, and cryptic paintings yet to be decoded. Discover the remarkable Elizabethan portraits of men in flames, the mystery ofthe nude Mona Lisa, the gruesome ingredients of lost pigments, the werewolf legion of the Roman army, and the Italian monk who levitated so often he’s recognised as the patron saint of aeroplane passengers.

From prehistoric cave art to portraits painted by artificial intelligence, The Madman’s Gallery draws on a remarkable depth of research and variety of images to form a book that surprises at every turn, and ultimately serves to celebrate the endless power and creativity of human imagination.

About The Author

Photograph © Alex Anstey

Edward Brooke-Hitching is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling books The Phantom Atlas (2016), The Golden Atlas (2018), The Sky Atlas (2019), The Madman's Library (2020) and The Devil's Atlas (2021), all of which have been translated into numerous languages; he is also the author of Fox Tossing, Octopus Wrestling and Other Forgotten Sports (2015). He is a writer for the BBC series QI. A fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and an incurable cartophile, he lives surrounded by dusty heaps of old maps and books in Berkshire.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (October 13, 2022)
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781398503588

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Raves and Reviews

‘I love this book. Beautifully illustrated, it's a superb cabinet of art curiosities, featuring the true stories of muses and masterpieces, uncovering what artists have really been inspired by, across history and cultures. A coffee table book that you'll actually want to read.'

– Ruth Millington, author of Muse: Uncovering the Hidden Figures Behind Art History’s Masterpieces

‘Welcome to this cabinet of artistic curiosities. Brooke-Hitching has done a marvellous service in highlighting the weird in art history. Too often, Surrealism aside, we fail to embrace the bizarre, feeling it is insufficiently "important" or "serious". Finally there is a book that beautifully embraces this subset of art history with lavish illustrations and thoughtful text about just this. Lay back, pour yourself a teacup full of string, and dive into this brain-tingling collection. The perfect gift for all lovers of the bizarre and the visually arresting.’

– Dr Noah Charney, author of The Museum of Lost Art

'The Madman’s Gallery reminds us that for the first 40,000 years of its existence art was a verb - something that does something. Protects you from demons and plagues, assists in childbirth, casting spells, summoning ghosts, standing over tombs, communing with ancestors, making the crops grow, safeguarding armies, and conjuring God.’

– Jerry Saltz, Senior Art Critic New York Magazine

'Don't miss the extraordinary new illustrated collection from Edward Brooke-Hitching. The Madman's Gallery draws on a depth of research and images to form a book that surprises at every turn.'

– Artists & Illustrators

'Brooke-Hitching has the true eye and instinct for the unusual and unexpected that is possessed by only the most dedicated and assiduous connoisseur and collector. I hope this cabinet of artistic curiosities becomes a bestselling book. A handsome volume that deserves to sell like hot cakes.'

– Robert Cumming, author of 'Art: A Visual History'

‘…a feast of artistic curiosities’

– The Telegraph

‘A gallery of the gory, the gruesome, the saucy, images familiar and strange.’

– Saga Magazine

‘Following on from books highlighting eccentric offerings from the fields of literature and cartography, Edward Brooke-Hitching sets off in search of similarly outré gems from visual art.’

– History Revealed

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