Isaac and Ede Antique Prints
Vue d'Optique Bordeaux

Vue d'Optique

Vue de la Porte et Place Bourgogne sur le Port de la Ville de Bordeaux

16.5 x 11.5 inches

This scene depicts the bustling, commercial French port of Bordeaux in the middle of the eighteenth century. Numerous ships and smaller craft can be seen arriving at the quay with tradesmen selling their goods at the harbour edge. In the background there can be seen a monumental archway that provides the entrance to the old town centre. Commercial buildings flank this arch and curve around on both sides to the waterfront. You will notice the mirror writing at the top of the image. This relates to the fact that this is an optical view, or perspective as they were commonly called, originating in the early eighteenth century as part of the print market in cities such as Paris, London and Augsburg. 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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