Auction 124, Lot 728

"[Lot of 4 - Naval Battle Prints - Gibraltar]", Haberman, F. X.

Subject: Ships

Period: 1760 (circa)

Publication: Collection des Prospects

Color: Hand Color

Size:
15.5 x 10.3 inches
39.4 x 26.2 cm

Optical prints (or vue d’optique) were made to be viewed in a special apparatus that provided the viewer with an illusion of depth (early 3-D). The large mirror employed in the viewing machine showed the image reversed so many of these views have the titles and information engraved forward and backwards to facilitate viewing in the machine or by hand. These prints were only produced for a short period of time (1740 to 1790) and then were replaced with the invention of the smaller steroviewer. These views are some of the most distinctive and interesting images of the eighteenth century, and their distinctive engraving style, striking perspective and bright original color makes them as visually delightful as they are historically fascinating.

This is an especially nice group of optical engravings. This set illustrates the siege of Gibraltar, an unsuccessful attempt by Spain and France to capture Gibraltar from the British during the American Revolutionary War. In September of 1782 the Spanish and French built up a tremendous force to try to oust the British. There were 50 ships, ten floating batteries with 154 guns, 40 gunboats, 33,000 troops and 300 pieces of artillery against the 7,000 British defenders. The British garrison, under the command of General George Eliot, held the attackers at bay and destroyed the floating batteries. Admiral Howe ran through the blockade to land provisions, ammunition and reinforcements to the garrison. This allowed the British to hold out for the remainder of the war. The titles at top are engraved in reverse with captions below, both in German and French. These views are some of the most interesting images of the eighteenth century, and their distinctive engraving style, striking perspective and bright original color makes them as visually delightful as they are historically fascinating.

References:

Condition: B+

Original color on sheets with some marginal foxing and some faint damp stains.

Estimate: $950 - $1,200

Sold for: $700

Closed on 5/7/2008

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