Dance of Ghosts and Death – magic lantern slide

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Identifier: 2014091. Dance of Ghosts and Death – magic lantern slide. [SOLD]

 

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Three images painted on glass, mounted in a period wooden lantern slide frame having three apertures. The maker has modified the wooden circles to avoid cropping the painted images. The original title: “DANCE OF GHOSTS AND DEATH” is written in ink on the top edge of the wooden mount. On one side of the frame is written what appears to be 6/- [six shillings] crossed out, and 5/- [five shillings] in pencil. Size: 295 x 99 mm.

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Skeletons and death figures were popular subjects for the phantasmagoria lantern shows of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The tradition goes back even earlier – a drawing of a skeleton removing its own head is a lantern slide design by Chrsitaan Huygens dating from 1659. The slide offered here probably dates from c.1830-1850, and is jovial rather than threatening or doom laden. Despite the title suggesting that Death (the skeleton) is dancing with ghosts, the nightshirted character appears to me to be alive and kicking. Unlike early engravings of the Dance of Death where the mortals are depicted as stiff and unaccommodating, the gentleman in this version readily joins in with the dance.

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This is the only known example of this subject, and the images from this slide were used as an illustration in Mervyn Heard’s book Phantasmagoria: The Secret Life of the Magic Lantern (The Projection Box, 2006).

A unique item.

Condition: good, with minor scratches, some areas of black background paint missing.

Price: [SOLD]      s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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