[Miscellaneous subjects]

Paper Peepshow
ca. 1845 (made)
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
National Art Library

This home-made paper peepshow is unique in the collection, and poses a conundrum in terms of its interpretation. It first of all stands out by its large size, more than double that of a more common paper peepshow. It is also very crudely made even for the standard of home-made works. Because of the thickness of the front-face board, the peep-hole is cut in a very rough manner. In addition, the arrangement of the content on the cut-out panels does not take into consideration the limited vision afforded by the peep-hole: much of the content on the sides remains invisible. Nevertheless, the maker appeared to be aware of the fragile nature of the paper peepshow, and sewed extra cloth strips on either side of the bellows to strengthen the structure.

The content of the paper peepshow is difficult to interpret. Each cut-out panel seems to represent a completely different scene, and there does not appear to be any coherent narrative between them. Apart from the trees painted on either side, all the imagery is taken from engraving clippings, but only the one on the reverse of the back panel could be identified. It comes from the Illustrated London Newspaper (16 December 1848). The accompanying article was dedicated to the plight of Irish farmers being evicted during the Irish Potato Famine. This scene of misery clashes with the jovial and lively atmosphere of the cut-out panels. It would be possible that instead of trying to present a coherent narrative, this paper peepshow intends to showcase various views.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Brief Description
[Miscellaneous subjects], ca. 1845
Physical Description
Hand-made accordion-style paper peepshow of different subject matters.



5 cut-out panels. 1 peep-hole. Wood engraving. Expands to approximately 72.5 cm.



Front face: turquoise background with two wood engraving clippings pasted on. The portrait of Louis-Philippe seated on a chaise-longue on the left; on the right, the image of a knight in armour with a man kneeling behind him, and a weeping woman seated in front of him. The peep-hole consists of a crudely-cut oval shape in the middle.



Panel 1: trees painted on either side. Clipping of men escorting women on the left; clipping of men dancing on the right.



Panel 2: trees painted on either side. Clipping of six men preparing horses on the left; clipping of three men conversing with each other in the centre.



Panel 3: trees painted on either side. Clipping of a man standing on the left; clipping of a group of non-European looking men playing a ball game in centre left; clipping of a group of men on horses and in a carriage on the right.



Panel 4: scroll decoration clipping on either side and top. Clipping of a top-hatted man on the left; clipping of what seems to be a pantomime performance in the centre, it consists of two Chinese-dressed men and two women in ballerina dress. Clipping of a man wearing a kilt on the right.



Panel 5: scroll decoration clipping on either side and top. Clipping of men and women in the pose of watching a spectacle on the left. Clipping of a couple standing with their back facing us in the centre. Clipping of a group of Native Americans on the right.



Back panel: trees painted on either side. Clipping of a banquet in the middle. The guests are military officers, who are waited upon by Indian waiters. On the reverse side is a wood engraving by Ebenezer Landells entitled ‘Ejectment of Irish Tenantry.’

Dimensions
  • Height: 12.5cm
  • Width: 31.2cm
  • Fully extended length: 72.5cm
Credit line
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
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 home-made paper peepshow is unique in the collection, and poses a conundrum in terms of its interpretation. It first of all stands out by its large size, more than double that of a more common paper peepshow. It is also very crudely made even for the standard of home-made works. Because of the thickness of the front-face board, the peep-hole is cut in a very rough manner. In addition, the arrangement of the content on the cut-out panels does not take into consideration the limited vision afforded by the peep-hole: much of the content on the sides remains invisible. Nevertheless, the maker appeared to be aware of the fragile nature of the paper peepshow, and sewed extra cloth strips on either side of the bellows to strengthen the structure.



The content of the paper peepshow is difficult to interpret. Each cut-out panel seems to represent a completely different scene, and there does not appear to be any coherent narrative between them. Apart from the trees painted on either side, all the imagery is taken from engraving clippings, but only the one on the reverse of the back panel could be identified. It comes from the Illustrated London Newspaper (16 December 1848). The accompanying article was dedicated to the plight of Irish farmers being evicted during the Irish Potato Famine. This scene of misery clashes with the jovial and lively atmosphere of the cut-out panels. It would be possible that instead of trying to present a coherent narrative, this paper peepshow intends to showcase various views.

Bibliographic Reference
R. Hyde, Paper Peepshows. The Jacqueline and Jonathan Gestetner Collection (Woodbridge: The Antique Collectors' Club, 2015), cat. 248.
Other Number
38041016059198 - NAL barcode
Collection
Library Number
Gestetner 248

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record createdOctober 17, 2018
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