Isaac and Ede Antique Prints
Vue d'Optique Florence

Vue d'Optique ~ George Balthasar Probst

Vue de l'Eglise Cathedral de Florence

17 x 12 inches

This charming print depicts the magnificent Duomo and adjacent Baptistery of Florence in all its splendour in the middle of the eighteenth century. Architecturally it is a very faithful rendition but artistically the scene is enlivened with numerous figures, carriages and animals in the foreground. Probst was a talented engraver, artist and cartographer who was part of a famous German publishing family based in Augsburg throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 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 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.


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