Vue d'optique: Paris-Versailles, Guckkasten
Paris-Versailles. "Le Chateau Roayal de Versailles cu cote de la Grande Avenue de Paris".
Vue d'optique. Copper etching. Original hand coloring. Published by Daumont. Paris, ca. 1790.
3 age toning. The coloring a bit careless. Spotty in margins. Inverted title above. Title: Latin and English
25.4 x 39.6 cm (10 x 15.6").
Magic Lantern - Laterna Magica - Laterne Magique
The term "vue d'optique" or "perspective view" is used for describing a very special genre of antique print. Originating in England it became widely produced in Europe during the second half of the 18th century. Augsburg, Paris, Bassano and several other places became centers for the production of these interesting, fascinating engravings.
"Perspective views" are usually views of cities around the world (but also of other subject matters, historal, Biblical etc.). These were shown in ãpeep boxes" which in turn were usually set up by travelling owners of such viewing devices on markets throughout Europe. People could, for a certain amount of money, look into a peep box and view these perspective views through a magnifying lense which, at the same time, gave the viewer the impression of threedimensional perception. Well-to-do people bought such viewing machines for their families and began collecting the vue d'optique engravings showing them at home like slide show would be shown.
Perspective view prints were usually colored quite boldly before they were sold. Black and white samples are the exception and rather rare. They also have more or less the same format (size), because they had to fit the peep boxes. The title of a view was not always, but quite frequently printed in several languages and often repeated above the view in inverted writing (which was corrected by the lens for the viewer).
The value of perspective view prints rapidly increased, when modern day collectors discovered the genre and began to be interested in collecting the prints. Some large collections of prints and viewing devices have been sold in some of the big auction houses with great success.
Since perspective view prints were actually used almost daily by moving them in and out of viewing boxes, they often show some wear and tear, unless they were handled with much care by private possessors. Prints are in good condition unles otherwise mentioned. A few minor spots and signs of wear are typical of antique prints.