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DIORAMA]. [PEEPSHOW]. [KULLISENTHEATER - Engelbrecht, Martin - 1730. 
Augsburg: Martin Engelbrecht, n.d. [ca. 1730-1750]. VERY GOOD. Suite of 7 hand-colored cut-out engravings mounted on card and attached at the outer corners by linen string (ca. 220 x 180 mm), the first being the proscenium "arch" (mounted on a contemporary sheet printed in Dutch). The following 6 engravings are numbered 170-175. In excellent condition, suitable for exhibition and study A rare early 18th-century 3-D peepshow (or Kullisentheater) by Martin Engelbrecht, circa 1730-1750, being ONE OF THE EARLIEST PAPER THEATERS IN HISTORY, cited by photographers and cinematographers for their early optical effects and appreciated as an aid to creating dramatic perspective on film. * Our diorama presents the Four Seasons in synoptic view behind a proscenium "arch." All of the engraving in our suite are heightened in full contemporary coloring. The suite is seen through a richly decorated rococo proscenium arch with flowers, luscious grapes, fruit trees and vines; the second image focuses on planting trees and courtship; the third and fourth images depict the threshing and stacking of the grain; in the fifth the apples and grapes are selected and wine is made. The sixth print shows a desolate, deserted winter scene, while the final print presents a merry skating party on a frozen pond. The present suite is distinguished by the numerous decorative figures, such as a pretty flower child who picks a colorful bouquet in the meadow; the pair of relaxing farmers in the field, and more. The diorama has been attached together by linen string; when viewed vertically the panels move with dizzying effect: the figures at the foreground and background move in unison in a manner that can only be described as "life-like." Ordinary, static examples have no such vibrancy. * Artist Martin Engelbrecht (1684-1756) was a printseller and engraver in Augsburg, Germany. "In about 1730, he created cards for miniature theaters, which when inserted into a display box showed religious scenes and pictures of daily life in a 3D perspective view. He devoted an entire series of these to the Italian theater. Engelbrecht??s miniature theaters or dioramas evolved from his large-scale Zograscope images and are regarded as the earliest 'paper' theaters in history." (SOURCE: Stephen J. Gertz, "The Miniature Theaters of Martin Engelbrecht" (in: Seattle PI, 23 July 2009). * "Best known for his portraits of monarchs as well as his intricate landscapes, EngelbrechtÂ?s work is beyond compare. Some of his best work was with optical prints. He used these in his perspective boxes and miniature theatres. Typically eight cards would be inserted into a peepbox, consecutively, which provided imagery similar to that of a theatre scene, or play. The view had great perspective." (SOURCE: History of the Discovery of Cinematography). * All of Engelbrecht's paper theaters are scarce, many extremely so: these miniature theater engraved cards were roughly (and often) handled by children and adults. That any have survived is quite remarkable. * REFERENCES: Laub 12f. Gier 785ff. Ann Montanaro, A Concise History of Pop-Up and Moveable Books (passim).
[Bookseller: Michael Laird Rare Books LLC ]
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