Collected Images
This page enumerates images that I’ve used as decorations on web pages over the years, and provides commentary explaining each picture and its provenance.

Click in the sidebar to choose an image. Click on a thumbnail to view a larger version of the image. Click in the larger image to return to the commentary.

This image browser is a single page implemented with JavaScript. Navigation among the images doesn't add anything to your browser’s history list: clicking the browser’s “back” button will take you to the previous page, not the previous image. Nevertheless, the page’s URL is updated as you navigate to always be a URL for the current image.

Many of these images are subject to some form of copyright restriction, generally explained in the image’s commentary. You may view them in the context of my web site, but other uses might require permission.

Purely photographic images aren’t here: see the family photograph album.


Alice (Wonderland)
One of John Tenniel’s illustrations from the original edition of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”.

Alice is swimming in the pool of (her) tears, and she strikes up a conversation with a passing mouse.

See my Alice page for an online copy of the book, typeset by me.

This image is scanned from a copy of the book. The original illustration is out of copyright. Home

Alice (Looking Glass)
One of John Tenniel’s illustrations from the original edition of “Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There”.

Alice is just emerging from the far side of the mirror.

See also my Alice page.

This image is scanned from a copy of the book. The original illustration is out of copyright. Home

The Book of Kells
Folio 292r from the Book of Kells.

This is the start of St John’s gospel, and it consists purely of the words “In principio erat verbum” (In the beginning was the word).

The Book of Kells is an illustrated manuscript of the four gospels, created around 800 A.D. (probably in Kells, Ireland or on Iona, an island off the West coast of Scotland). The word “illustrated” is an understatement — it is probably the finest illustrated codex still in existence, and perhaps the finest ever. Almost every page has intricate colored illustrations, and the major pages such as this one are completely decorated. This scan, which has a resolution of roughly 40 pixels per inch, can’t come close to showing the details of the illustration.

The Book of Kells is in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. There are several publications available with much better reproductions than my one; I recommend “The Book of Kells” by Bernard Meehan (ISBN 0-500-27790-7) available for about US$20. There’s also a comprehensive CD-ROM of the Book of Kells. At the more expensive end of the spectrum, there’s a facsimile version from Fine Art Facsimile Publishers of Switzerland (Lucerne) that sold for around US$18000, although it is now out of print. Home

Celtic Knot
A detail from an illuminated manuscript in the British Museum, taken from plate 64 of the Grammar of Ornament.

This is a good example of the knotwork decoration typical of Celtic design in the fifth through tenth centuries A.D. As is frequently the case, this knot is woven from a single thread. Click on the thumbnail to view an animation showing the knot being woven.

See my knotwork page if you want to try designing knots like this yourself.

The Grammar of Ornament is a wonderful book by Owen Jones, first published in 1856. It includes a wide range of samples of abstract decoration from around the world and through the centuries. The original folio edition is now a collectors’ piece, costing thousands of dollars. Fortunately, there are reprints available. On paper, you can find it at There’s also a very nice CD-ROM edition available from Direct Imagination.

The animation is copyright © 2003 Andrew Birrell. All rights reserved. Home

Celtic Wheel
My rendering of a Celtic wheel cross design.

I based the design on a drawing in J. Romilly Allen’s “Celtic Art in Pagan and Christian Times”, at page 181. The stone that he drew was found in Pen-Arthur, Wales, and is now in St. David’s cathedral in Wales. The original stone design was probably created in the ninth or tenth century A.D.

Romilly Allen’s drawing has 23 spokes around the perimeter, unevenly distributed (11 on the right and 12 on the left). I chose to use 23 spokes uniformly distributed. When I looked at the original stone (in St. David's, in 2003) I couldn’t tell whether it had 23 or 24 spokes. Either the design was in better condition when Romilly Allen saw it (early 1900’s), or Romilly just guessed.

Regardless, I prefer the design as shown here: I think the asymmetry of the spokes makes an interesting counterpoint to the otherwise strong symmetry of the pattern. Using 24 spokes would produce four identical quadrants; with 23, none of the quadrants are identical (nor are the octants).

I drew the pattern in Adobe Illustrator (which means that I can produce the image at any resolution), then rendered it in Adobe Photoshop (using lighting effects and a texture).

Copyright © 2002 Andrew Birrell. All rights reserved. Home

Edinburgh, 1581
The map of Edinburgh from the Braun and Hogenberg 1581 atlas of city plans.

The castle is on the left; Holyrood and Arthur's Seat are on the right.

The original is (of course) out of copyright, and this image is public domain. Home

George Heriots
A view of the quadrangle in George Heriot’s School, Edinburgh.

The building was started in 1628 and it opened as a school in 1659 (after a delay caused by being occupied by Oliver Cromwell; the building still has marks from a canonball that was fired on it from Edinburgh Castle, which didn’t support Cromwell at the time.) For more information, see the school’s web site.

I was educated at Heriot’s from 1959 to 1969.

This is plate V from “Historical and Descriptive Account of George Heriot’s Hospital”, published by Cunningham and Johnstone in Edinburgh, 1827. The book and the plate are out of copyright. I scanned this from my copy of the book. Home

Jorge Aguiar Map
A map of the Mediterranean, parts of Europe and parts of Africa, by Jorge Aguiar, 1492.

This is the oldest known Portuguese navigator map. The title written on the map says (in Portuguese) “Jorge d’Aguiar made me, lisbon in the year of our lord jesus christ 1492”. That’s the year when Columbus departed from Spain on his failed mission to discover a route to China and India across the Atlantic, and five years before Vasco da Gama departed from Portugal to India eastwards, around Africa and across the Indian Ocean.

The map was designed for seaborne navigators. It has lots of details around the coasts, but only major features inland, like national capitals and the Alps. While there are some inaccuracies (like the Rhine and Danube joining up), it’s in general very accurate, especially considering that the creators had no precise way of measuring longitude.

The map is currently in the Beinecke rare book library at Yale, for some reason.

The original is 114.3 cm by 88.9 cm. The Beinecke web site includes a high resolution image of the map, at roughly 150 pixels per inch. The map predates the concept of copyright.

I used this for some background graphics for the proceedings of SOSP 2011 in Cascais, Portugal. Home

An icon for the “Desktop on a Keychain” project.

This is licensed by me from Corbis. You are permitted to view it in the context of my home page web site, but if you want to do anything else with it you should talk to Corbis. Home

Knotted Circle
I created this figure in Adobe Illustrator, and rendered it with Photoshop.

I drew the basic twisted rope as straightforward paths, then painted it with a rainbow gradient and defined it as a brush. I then drew a weave pattern based on a “figure-of-eight” knot, and stroked its paths with the rainbow rope brush. I used this woven rainbow rope to define another brush, which can then be used to stroke any path. In this case I used it to stroke a circle.

The design is copyright © 2007 Andrew Birrell. All rights reserved. Home

Lewis Chessman
A king from the Lewis chessmen.

The pieces were discovered on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland in 1831. The discovery consisted of 93 carved pieces; 78 of them were chessmen. They are carved from walrus ivory, and are generally believed to have been created in Scandinavia about 1050. Most of them are now in the British Museum, though some are in the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh.

The British Museum publishes a pamphlet by Michael Taylor with some details about the chessmen (ISBN 0-7141-1347-6). There’s also a more humorous account of the travails of the pieces written by Irving Finkel (ISBN 0-714100573-2). Both seem to be out of print at the moment.

There are numerous replicas of the pieces available: try the usual search engines.

This is a photo of a model of one of the kings. The background of the full size image is the result of me playing with Adobe Photoshop.

The photo is copyright © 2003 Andrew Birrell. All rights reserved. Home

This drawing was included in the the press kit for the announcement of the original Macintosh on January 24th, 1984.

Under the title “Apple Introduces Macintosh Advanced Personal Computer”, they explain that:

Like Apple's ground-breaking Lisa computer, Macintosh uses its built- in user-interface software and high-resolution display to simulate the actual desk-top working environment--complete with built-in notepads, file folders, a calculator and other office tools. Every Macintosh computer contains 64 kilobytes of read-only memory (ROM), built-in Lisa Technology and 128 kilobytes of random-access memory (RAM) that support these desk- top tools. Users tell Macintosh what to do simply by moving a "mouse"--a small pointing device--to select among functions listed in menus and represented by pictorial symbols on the screen. Users are no longer forced to memorize the numerous and confusing keyboard commands of conventional computers. The result is radical ease of use and a significant reduction in learning time. In effect, the Macintosh is a desk-top appliance offering users in- creased utility and creativity with simplicity.
The drawing is undoubtedly copyright by Apple. It’s reproduced here under the license implicit in the press kit that I own. If you copy it, you might well incur the wrath of Apple lawyers. Home
Me (1993)
This is me in 1993, photographed by me. As you might be able to guess, I made it for a passport photograph.

I created this with a frame-grabber attached to a Macintosh.

The photo is copyright © 1993 Andrew Birrell. All rights reserved. Home

Me (2001)
This is me in 2001, on holiday in the Caribbean.

The photo is copyright © 2001 Eleanor Birrell. All rights reserved. Home

Oak Tree
A photograph of an oak tree, basis for one of the miniature icons on my top-level home page.

This is licensed by me from Corbis. You are permitted to view it in the context of my home page web site, but if you want to do anything else with it you should talk to Corbis. Home

This photograph was taken from the GOES-7 geo-stationary satellite above the Pacific Ocean at about 5 p.m. PDT on 2nd May 1995. California and the rest of the U.S.A. are towards the top right.

Derived from an image I fetched from NASA. Home

Prince Hal
A sketch for the costume design for Prince Hal (played by Dan Donohue) in Henry IV Part 1 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1997.

This was scanned from the original drawing, which I own.

The scan is copyright © 2003 Andrew Birrell. All rights reserved. The actual costume design might well have more restrictive copyright attached to it. Home

Scotland, 1575
The map of Scotland from “Theatrum Orbis Terrarum”, 1575 edition (with Latin text), by Abraham Ortelius.

The Theatrum is generally considered to be the first “atlas” in the modern sense of that word. See for example the description at the Library of Congress. Note that in this map Ortelius chose to draw North to the right. (This is different from the surveying errors that gave Scotland a peculiar shape in the earlier Ptolemaic maps of Britain).

The original is (of course) out of copyright, and this image is public domain. Home

A detail from a figurine of the Egyptian goddess Selket.

The figurine came from the tomb of Tutankhamun, where it was one of four goddesses guarding the canopic chest. It’s made of gilded wood. Selket was associated with scorpions, and with helping in childbirth and healing.

I scanned this from an exhibition catalog. I also have a photo of the entire figurine. The original figurine has been out of copyright for about 3300 years.

See also the Egyptian antiquities page supported by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism. Home

A Stethoscope
I acquired this image from Wikimedia, which says that it is public domain.

I use it as the icon for my network diagnostics page. Home

La Toilette
“La Toilette” by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. 1896. Oil painting on cardboard, 67 by 54 cm.

I scanned this from a print. The original is in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris (last I heard). Home

USA Relief Map
One of my shaded relief maps of the United States.

The image linked to from here is very low resolution; see my relief maps page for better images and more details, including copyright information. Home

I know nothing about this drawing, but it seemed like a good icon for my arbitrary-precision calculator page.

I took this drawing from the Zedcor Desk Gallery clip art CD-ROM. Reproduced by permission, though the original is almost certainly public domain. Home

Full-size image
Copyright on Scanned Images
Some of the images used on my web site I scanned from photographs in a book. In all cases, these were photographs of works of art that are themselves in the public domain, either because their copyright has expired or because they were never subject to copyright laws.

Despite the fact that people often claim copyright on such photographs, current U.S. case law makes it clear that a work, whose intent is to replicate an existing image or artifact as closely as feasible, is not itself an original work of art, and is not subject to separate copyright protection.

“Absent a genuine difference between the underlying work of art and the copy of it for which protection is sought, the public interest in promoting progress in the arts — indeed, the constitutional demand — could hardly be served. To extend copyrightability to minuscule variations would simply put a weapon for harassment in the hands of mischievous copiers intent on appropriating and monopolizing public domain work.”

See Bridgeman versus Corel, 1999 and several related cases.

It is on this basis that I present those images here. (I could also argue fair use, but that doesn't appear to be necessary.)

Return to the commentary.