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Stereoscopic Views

Stereoscopic photography was developed in 1844 by David Brewster, the inventor of the kaleidoscope. Presented at the Great Exhibition in London of 1851, it attracted the attention of Queen Victoria and enjoyed rapid success. In addition to relief, the small format of the plates allowed “snapshots” of a fraction of a second. Relatively cheap, stereoscopy provided a private type of pleasure – the viewer-voyeur finds himself almost isolated from the world -, but also a social entertainment due to the wonder and exclamations it caused.  For the first time, it became possible to capture lively scenes or to stop the movement of wavelets on water. This completely new depiction of life would constitute an extraordinary social archive mixing together the same anonymous crowd, workers, bourgeois, tradespeople, passersby and strollers. From a formal point of view, stereoscopic images use new angles of vision, views from above, and still frames that are precursors to cinematography. Striking similarities can be found between these lively photographed scenes and the works of Caillebotte, as well as of Monet, Pissarro and Seurat. The same type of fragmentary and piecemeal framing of reality with close up effects is used in many paintings depicting scenes of boating, bathing, fishing, country parties and picnic lunches.

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