Fall 2008

Introductory Image

How to begin on this one? Braintree Scientific is a company based in Massachussetts that specializes in manufacturing equipment for experimentation on small animals. In the 1980s, they commissioned a series of illustrations as covers for their product catalogues, each image featuring rats in various anthropomorphic poses. This reworking of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus gave us goosebumps. First, there’s the utter faithfulness of the rendition, down to the last flower. And then there is the mind-boggling projection of shame and modesty onto the coy Venus-rat, who, lacking the long golden hair of Venus, resorts to using her tail to hide her genitals. This is an image that we will undoubtedly carry with us to our graves. We toyed with the idea of using this image for the cover but then became anxious that its “challenging” aesthetics might put off potential readers, like you. We wish we had been brave enough to use this on the cover but are ashamed to admit that we were too cowardly.
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