Auction 134, Lot 264

"Representation du Feu Terrible a Nouvelle Yorck", Haberman, F. X.

Subject: New York City

Period: 1780 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

15.7 x 9.5 inches
39.9 x 24.1 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 dramatic vue d'Optique engraving shows the burning of New York when the British captured the city in September 1776. The scene is wildly imaginary, but is a great illustration of how news of the American Revolution was portrayed in Europe. The Library of Congress's notes: "On the night of September 21, 1776, New York was ablaze as British and American armies fought for its control. Both sides blamed the other's partisans for ignited the conflagration that consumed nearly one-third of the city. Nathan Hale was among those arrested by the British in the fire's immediate aftermath. In this depiction, buildings burn while British Redcoats beat civilians…"


Condition: B+

Margins close but adequate. Some soiling in lower title area and a small stain at right margin.

Estimate: $300 - $400

Sold for: $230

Closed on 12/1/2010