Amsterdam: Wed. G. A. Diederichs en Zoon and Mindermann, 1820. Four paper packets with thirty-six paper figures. The figures are cut from laid paper so that a lantern shining through the cut-out portions would project the image onto a wall or sheet. The largest packet, containing six sheets, was professionally produced, and contains intricate, multi-figure images of chess players, musicians, a school master with his pupils, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, dames at a tea table, and a noble family. The other three packets, containing twelve, twelve, and six figures respectively, look to be have been home-made supplements to the original set. These additional figures are very finely done, and include a variety of historic figures including Queen Elizabeth I, the prophet Muhammad, Diogenes, Homer, Minerva, the Apostles Paul and Peter, and King Francis I of France. It also includes a few generic figures from different professions and ethnicities. Each is carefully numbered and labeled, and a handwritten list is included in each packet. Shadow theater, which has a long tradition in the East, didn't gain popularity in Europe until the eighteenth century. This set of cut paper silhouettes is an extremely rare early example of this form of European shadow theater. A very interesting and unique set, complete and in fine condition.
(Inventory #: 27239)
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