Monday, July 25, 2011

Grand Perspectives

"In the 18th and 19th centuries a device with a lens and mirror called the zograscope was used to give an illusion of depth to hand colored engravings called vue d’optique prints.

The zograscope is placed over a hand colored print so that the print is reflected in the mirror held at an angle. The spectator looks into the magnifying lens on the front of the instrument to view the reflection. The lens and mirror impart a quality of depth to the flat print. These instruments were popular parlor amusements in the 18th and early 19th centuries. It is a sort of peepshow without the box." [source]
The 18th century zograscope prints seen here by GB Probst were spliced together from screenshots from the Gallica site at the BNF. The images posted below are cropped: in the border surrounds of the full prints, the title(s) are given (usually) in two to four languages and a mirror image of the basic title - specifically for the zograscope - usually appears at the top, above the illustration.

Vue du jardin des Ciprés

Cypress Gardens, 1750 (location unknown)

Le marché au sel, ou la grande Place de Breslau du côté du midi

The salt market at noon in the great square of Breslau (Wroclaw, Poland), 1740

Vue auprès de la Mosquée du Sultan Mechemet et de Selim à Constantinople

View from the Mosque of Sultans Mehmet and Selim, in Constantinople (Istanbul)

Vuë ou perspective de la Ville de Bethlehem Comme les 3 Rois Mages, savoir Gaspar, Melchior, Baltasar vinrent de l'Orient, pour y adorer Jesus Nouveau né, et lui apporte les presens, savoir : l'Or, l'Encens, et la Myrrhe

View or perspective of the city of Bethlehem as the three Magi - called Gaspar, Melchior, Balthasar - arrive from the east, bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh, in honour of the newborn baby Jesus

De Groote of St Walburgs Kerk te Zutphen
aldus te zien aan teind van de Roden Toren Straat

St Walburg's church in Zutphen (Gelderland, Holland), 1770

Vue du Cours de Marseille

Marseilles boulevard vista

Vue à Batavie du côté de la Courtine du Château

Canal prospect with Fort Batavia's Pearl bastion (Jakarta, Indonesia), 1750

Arc Triomphal à Canton

The Triumphal Arch in the main street in Guangzou, China

Le dedans du Palais de l'Empereur de Chine à Péking

View of the Imperial Chinese Palace in Beijing, 1750

Vue dessus du Port vers l'Eglise à Goude

View over the canal/port to the church at Gouda, Holland, 1740

't Stadhuis te Wlissingen uit de Zee te zien

View of City Hall in Vlissingen (Holland) from the sea, 1750

Palmyria (Syria)
L'Ancienne Ville de Palmira comme elle subsiste encore

The ancient city of Palmyra (Syria) as it still exists today*

St Petersburg
Projet d'une Place à St Petersbourg en Russie

View along an avenue in St Petersburg, Russia, 1740

St Petersburg (a)
La Magasin des Provisions de la Cour, sur la rivière de Fontacka, à St Petersbourg

Supply stores along the banks of the Fotanka river* in St Petersburg, Russia, 1740

St Geneve

Vue Perspective de la Biblioteque de Ste Geneviève de Paris

View of the Saint Geneviève Library in Paris (undated)

**Easter egg print : find this at the source and it leads to 80 more**

La Bibliothèque de l'Université de Göttinghe

The university library in Gottingen, Germany, 1740

Representation d'un Bal de Noblesse
Representation d'un Bal de Noblesse

Print depicting a ball for the nobility (location unknown), 1740

L'Amphitheatre de Rome, sixiéme miracle du Monde

The Roman amphitheatre - the 6th wonder of the world*

The Lighthouse of Alexandria
Phare de l'Egypte, septiéme miracle du Monde

The Lighthouse of Egypt (Alexandria) : the 7th wonder of the world

A collection of some eighty hand-coloured engraved prints by Georg Balthasar Probst are available from the Gallica website. {once you load an image, click on 'Display' to get a full-screen, zooming interface} (And, as noted above**, clicking through on one particular image reveals a further eighty prints)

This Grand Perspectives post very much derives from an entry seen on the (excellent) Gallica blog a few months ago (in which you'll find a link to the whole collection of vue d'optique prints).
"Georg Balthasar Probst was a German artist, engraver and publisher in Augsburg, a major European publishing center in the 17th and 18th centuries. He produced architectural views of places around the world intended as vues d’optiques, which were published in various places during the last half of the 18th century, including Paris, Augsburg and London."

vue d'optique device courtesy of

1 comment :

Belle said...

I enjoyed enlarging these and looking at the detail. Very interesting.

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