[A ball]

Paper Peepshow
ca. 1830 (made)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
National Art Library

This hand-made paper peepshow represents a ball, which in the nineteenth-century was a very popular occasion for the affluent members of society, and could be held in a public or private space. The construction of this paper peepshow is quite unusual: muslin was chosen to be sewn to the panels as connecting bellows, and the semi-transparent quality of the textile results in a different kind of light effect when the paper peepshow is expanded. The cut-out panels and the back panel exclusively comprise clippings from other prints. This suggests the possibility that the paper peepshow could have been made after a construction pattern or prints with a ballroom theme.

A ball was the ultimate occasion for courtship, as repeatedly shown in the novels of Jane Austen. The popularity of balls, as well as the complex protocols and codified behaviours in the ballroom, had encouraged the publication of various dancing manuals and etiquette handbooks for the ballroom.

Interestingly, the depiction of the ballroom in this work focuses less on creating a perspective illusion, as often seen in other works. Instead, the bareness of the frames to the cut-out panels and the staggering position of the figures make the scene look like in a miniature stage set.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Brief Description
[A Ball], ca. 1830
Physical Description
Hand-made accordion-style paper peepshow of a ball.



7 cut-out panels. 1 peep-hole. Hand-coloured lithograph. Expands to approximately 41 cm.



Front face: the porch to a Classical house with four Corinthian columns and a frieze. The peep-hole consists of the rectangular open window in the middle. The hole would have been fit with a glass lens, of which only shards remain.



Panels 1-7: men and women dancing and conversing. Several servants attending the guests. Chandeliers pasted on the upper part of Panels 3 and 6. An embossed stamp of ‘Turnbull’s Crayon Board’ at the base of Panel 7.



Back panel: an alcove with an orchestra playing in a minstrel gallery above, and men and women sitting at tables below. One portrait painting on either side of the wall. All of the items have been pasted to the back-board. On the reverse side reads an inscription ‘Mary Anderson from dear Aunt Robert [sic].’

Dimensions
  • Height: 13.5cm
  • Width: 16cm
  • Fully extended length: 41cm
Marks and Inscriptions
‘Mary Anderson from dear Aunt Robert [sic].’ (Inscription on the reverse side of the back panel.)
Credit line
Accepted under the Cultural Gifts Scheme by HM Government from the collections of Jacqueline and Jonathan Gestetner and allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2016.
Object history
Mary Anderson, 19th century? (inscription on the reverse side reads an inscription ‘Mary Anderson from dear Aunt Robert [sic].')



Part of the Jacqueline and Jonathan Gestetner Collection, collected over 30 years and given to the V&A Museum through the government's Cultural Gift Scheme, 2016.
Summary
This hand-made paper peepshow represents a ball, which in the nineteenth-century was a very popular occasion for the affluent members of society, and could be held in a public or private space. The construction of this paper peepshow is quite unusual: muslin was chosen to be sewn to the panels as connecting bellows, and the semi-transparent quality of the textile results in a different kind of light effect when the paper peepshow is expanded. The cut-out panels and the back panel exclusively comprise clippings from other prints. This suggests the possibility that the paper peepshow could have been made after a construction pattern or prints with a ballroom theme.



A ball was the ultimate occasion for courtship, as repeatedly shown in the novels of Jane Austen. The popularity of balls, as well as the complex protocols and codified behaviours in the ballroom, had encouraged the publication of various dancing manuals and etiquette handbooks for the ballroom.



Interestingly, the depiction of the ballroom in this work focuses less on creating a perspective illusion, as often seen in other works. Instead, the bareness of the frames to the cut-out panels and the staggering position of the figures make the scene look like in a miniature stage set.

Bibliographic Reference
R. Hyde, Paper Peepshows. The Jacqueline and Jonathan Gestetner Collection (Woodbridge: The Antique Collectors' Club, 2015), cat. 219.
Other Number
38041017020512 - NAL barcode
Collection
Library Number
Gestetner 219

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdMarch 8, 2017
Record URL