Isaac and Ede Antique Prints
Vue d'Optique Rotunda

Vue d'Optique

An inside view of the Rotundo in London

16 x 9.5 inches

A hand coloured, copper plate engraving, published in London circa 1750.

This is a wonderfully entertaining view of the bon ton of mid eighteenth century London enjoying a promenade within the Ranalagh Gardens Rotunda. The pleasure gardens at Ranalagh were officially opened in 1742 with a large rococo rotunda as its centrepiece and its publicity read "everybody that loves eating, drinking, staring or crowding" is welcome for 12d admittance. Therte was a huge fireplace in the centre and an orchestra pit where Mozart came to play. There were numerous booths for eating, drinking, smoking and (inevitably) fornicating.

It is one of a series of prints that were called optical views, or perspectives. They originated in the early eighteenth century, as part of the topographical print market in cities such as Augsburg, Paris and London. They were typically horizontal in orientation, firmly engraved with lines of perspective and strongly coloured. As people moved around Europe 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.


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