In this first full-length study of a greatly forgotten optical device from the eighteenth century, Arnaud Maillet reconfigures our historical understanding that visual suffer and definition in relation to notions that opacity, transparency, and imagination. Plenty of are familiar with the Claude glass together a little black convex mirror used by artists and spectators of landscape to reflect a view and also make tonal values and also areas the light and also shade visible.

In a groundbreaking account, Maillet walk well past this particular role of the glass and also situates it in ~ a richer archaeology of western thought, experimenting the uncertainties and also anxieties around mirrors, reflections, and also their potential distortions. He takes us from the magical and occult background of the “black mirror,” v a complete evaluation of its prominence in the period of the picturesque, come its persistence in a variety of technological and representational practices, including photography, film, and contemporary art. The Claude Glass is a lasting contribution to the history of Western visual culture.




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“This sustained examination that an instrument so integral come the history of Romantic esthetics, and also yet for this reason neglected, is a an useful and vital work.”—Times literature Supplement

rigorously researched and also richly suggestive book… . In Maillet’s skillful and endlessly attractive account, the totality of western art, for some centuries, appears plausibly to have actually been seduced by the notion if no the reality, of seeing v a glass, darkly.”— Modern Painters

“This is important reading for painters and artists; strongly recommended because that academics, specialists, and students for its original, totally documented scholarship and also contribution come art background on a rarely covered subject.”— Library Journal


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