20 x 14.5 inches
A copper plate engraving in original hand color, published in Paris circa 1750.
These optical views, or perspectives as they were commonly called, originated in the early eighteenth century, initially as part of the London topographical print market, and then from the 1740’s onwards they reached new heights of popularity in cities such as Augsburg and Paris. They were typically horizontal in orientation, firmly engraved with lines of perspective and strongly coloured, initially depicting the capital cities of Europe but later embracing more exotic locations from around the world. As people moved around Europe and further overseas these views became increasingly popular as an entertainment once the traveller had arrived home. In the wealthy drawing rooms of London and Paris these prints would be produced after dinner along with an optical viewing device known as a zograscope or viewfinder. These devices would comprise a lens and a mirror thus reversing the image upon the paper and creating an enhanced perspective for the viewer to enjoy. They continue to provide us with a fascinating record of European cities in the latter half of the eighteenth century and remain as visually appealing as they are historically fascinating.