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Mr. Albert Smith's Ascent of Mont Blanc every evening at the Egyptian Hall Piccadilly

Paper Peepshow
[1853] (published)
Place Of Origin

The front-face design on this peepshow shows the Piccadilly façade of the Egyptian Hall, built in 1812 to accommodate the collection of curiosities of William Bullock. By the second half of the 19th century, it was primarily used for public entertainment and lectures. This peepshow records Albert Smith, mountaineer and entertainer, giving the account of his ascent of the Mont-Blanc to a captivated audience. This proved to be a most popular show which ran from 15 March 1852 to 26 June 1858. The peepshow would have been sold as a souvenir on the premises and, presumably at other shops in the capital.

The first cut-out panel consists of the audience, the second one depicts the proscenium arch adopting the architecture of a Swiss chalet, with Albert Smith to the right, his arm raised. Fourteen paper slides depict the various views on the panorama which Smith used to illustrate his adventures. They represent: Geneva, Martigny, in the Valais, the Convent of the Great St Bernard, The Valley of Chamouni from the Col de Balme, The village of Chamouni, Court-yard of Tairraz' Hotel de Londres at Chamouni, The cascade and chalet des pèlerins, approach to the Glacier des Bossons, dangerous crevice in the Glacier du Tacconay, the Grand Mulet Rocks by sunset, The Grand Plateau by moonlight (transparency), hazardous ascent of the Mur de la Côté, coming down, interior of a Paris café (transparency). Two other views (Chillon and Avalanche dead house) are not included in this set.
The Egyptian Hall was demolished in 1905.

For other versions of this peepshow, see Gestetner 264 and 356.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Brief Description
Peepshow of Albert Smith's moving panorama of 'The Ascent of Mont Blanc'. Accordion-folding peepshow. Expands to approximately 27 cm. 2 cut-out panels. Hand-coloured lithographs. Cartonnage box.

Physical Description
Accordion-folding peepshow , with two cut-out panels. The front-face forms the lis to the shallow cartonnage box containing the peepshow. 14 slides are accommodated behind the cut-out panels, on the floor of the box.
Dimensions
  • Height: 20cm
  • Width: 23cm
  • Depth: 27cm (Note: Maximum expansion of the paper bellows.)
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 in 2016.
Subject depicted
Summary
The front-face design on this peepshow shows the Piccadilly façade of the Egyptian Hall, built in 1812 to accommodate the collection of curiosities of William Bullock. By the second half of the 19th century, it was primarily used for public entertainment and lectures. This peepshow records Albert Smith, mountaineer and entertainer, giving the account of his ascent of the Mont-Blanc to a captivated audience. This proved to be a most popular show which ran from 15 March 1852 to 26 June 1858. The peepshow would have been sold as a souvenir on the premises and, presumably at other shops in the capital.



The first cut-out panel consists of the audience, the second one depicts the proscenium arch adopting the architecture of a Swiss chalet, with Albert Smith to the right, his arm raised. Fourteen paper slides depict the various views on the panorama which Smith used to illustrate his adventures. They represent: Geneva, Martigny, in the Valais, the Convent of the Great St Bernard, The Valley of Chamouni from the Col de Balme, The village of Chamouni, Court-yard of Tairraz' Hotel de Londres at Chamouni, The cascade and chalet des pèlerins, approach to the Glacier des Bossons, dangerous crevice in the Glacier du Tacconay, the Grand Mulet Rocks by sunset, The Grand Plateau by moonlight (transparency), hazardous ascent of the Mur de la Côté, coming down, interior of a Paris café (transparency). Two other views (Chillon and Avalanche dead house) are not included in this set.

The Egyptian Hall was demolished in 1905.



For other versions of this peepshow, see Gestetner 264 and 356.
Bibliographic Reference
R. Hyde, Paper Peepshows. The Jacqueline and Jonathan Gestetner Collection (Woodbridge: The Antique Collectors' Club, 2015), cat. 263.
Other Number
2014135 - Previous number
Collection
Library Number
Gestetner 263

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record createdFebruary 24, 2017
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