Superbe feux d’artifice


Unidentified Artist, Vue d’un superbe feux d’artifice a Vienne [A View of Superb Fireworks in Vienna], 1780. Engraving with hand coloring. Graphic Arts Collection GA 1995.00005

Princeton’s Graphic Arts Collection has a large group of Vues d’optique (optical views) along with the viewing devices used to look at them. A special sub-set are the transparency views or hold-to-light prints. Rather than simply being designed with exaggerated perspective, these are made to be seen in peep shows, boxes with a top lid so that the light could be directed from the front or the back, offering a daytime view and a nighttime view.  Most of our prints are late 18th-century European and have added color or colored paper on the back to enhance the scene.

Below is a shot of the fireworks from the back:

hold to light fireworks3

 Here is another example. We have a whole series of street views from the City of Scheveningen. I’m sorry the registration is poor.


Unidentified Artist, View of the City of Scheveningen, 1780. Engraving with hand coloring. Graphic Arts Collection GA 1995-00012a


Thomas Rowlandson incorporated magic lanterns into a number of his prints and drawings but this is the only one I know of that is a transformation print.

magic-lanternEngraved by H. Merke (active ca. 1800-ca. 1820) after a design by Thomas Rowlandson (1756 or 1757- 1827), A Magic Lantern, January 20, 1799. Published by Rudolph Ackermann. Mezzotint with transparencies and added color. GC 138. Gift of Dickson Q. Brown, Class of 1895. Graphic Arts collection GC 138.


The wonderful Dick Balzer’s website has more: