Shadowbox: Magic Lantern Shows

Where can you see the world as it was in 1832, with living, breathing people, and the sort of lives they had?

Apart from living history museums such as Beamish and Ironbridge, we have dramatisations. Here are just a few I’m familiar with. If you know of any others, please add them in the comments section.

Precious Bane – the wonderful BBC production with Janet McTeer and Clive Owen. The last scene of this marvellous production has stayed with me in the almost thirty years since I saw it on TV. If you can find it on satellite or cable, do yourself a favour and watch it all the way through.

Far From The Madding Crowd (1967) - Julie Christie and Alan Bates

Far From The Madding Crowd – the production from 1967 with Julie Christie, Alan Bates and Terence Stamp. Huge tracts of land. Dorset.

Stair Hole [Dorset] Looking East, Frederick Whitehead, 1890s.Comrades – The story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, a group of 19th century English farm labourers (also Dorset-based) who formed one of the first trade unions and started a campaign to receive fair wages. This production is famous for having Alex Norton playing 14 different roles within the story, including that of a Magic Lantern Man.

Subtitled “A Lanternist’s Account of the Tolpuddle Martyrs and What Became of Them”, the film plays with the idea of social puppetry and class perception through the figure of The Lanternist – Tara Judah, Senses of Cinema

The Fool – another British production, this time featuring Derek Jacobi in twin roles as a man who passes between high society and low. Sticks in my mind for the woman who makes her living by knitting “squares”.

Les Miserables – this is the Hugh Jackman version of the musical. I’ve yet to see the film but remember the stage version from about 1988, in London (my cousin had tickets and a husband who wasn’t interested). I wasn’t much interested back then either, but was impressed by the stage set.

And, of course:

The Count of Monte Cristo – although this TV adaptation with Gerard Depardieu mucks about with the ending somewhat, the most thrilling and entertaining parts survive intact and the characters are superbly acted. A family affair, this film, as Depardieu’s daughter Julie plays Valentine de Villefort and the young Monte Cristo – Edmond Dantes – is played by Depardieu’s son Guillaume.

Whatever influence these dramatisations may have had on my imagination – however much they might have helped me to picture the period in which I set SHADOWBOX – the story within the pages of the novel is my own.

Next post in the SHADOWBOX series: What’s Missing In 1832?

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Shadowbox: Crime & Punishment

Within the first few pages of SHADOWBOX, Louis Beauregard flees London and a murder he did not want to commit.

Sandbagging in the fog. Go see the link for more information.What would his penalty have been in 1832 for killing another free man?

In England, men had been convicted as well as acquitted for deaths committed as the result of a duel. But in Louis’s case, the crime which sets off his escape from London was more serious. He could have faced anything from a stiff fine to death by hanging.

English law goes back to the Anglo-Saxon laws of King Alfred the Great. Retribution was one of the great penalties doled out. But Louis’s crime has to be viewed in the conceits of his time, when much of society was very different from today.

The death penalty was abolished for theft, counterfeiting and almost all forms of forgery in 1832.

For a start, Louis is not a common man. In 1832 he belonged to the cream of society, not quite above the law but with less onerous penalties than an ordinary subject of King William IV.

An ordinary man, such as James Cook, received a sentence of death by hanging and subsequent gibbeting of his remains.

When the body of the convict had hung the usual time after his execution, it was cut down and conveyed back to the jail, in order that the necessary preparations might be made to carry out that portion of the sentence which directed his remains to be gibbeted in chains. The head was shaved and tarred, to preserve it from the action of the weather; and the cap in which he had suffered, was drawn over his face.

With his powerful friends in high places, it’s unlikely Louis would have been hanged. But to a young man, never in trouble with the law before, how could he know? The Metropolitan Police were on his heels.Metropolitan Policeman, 1829-ish

Even as a member of the ruling classes he’d face censure.

Not so for lesser men. Minor transgressions, such as theft of food or counterfeiting, ended in transportation. Debtors’ prisons, such as The Marshalsea, so dear to Charles Dickens, were jammed with people waiting to be transported.

The journey was hazardous. Many died en route to the colonies of Australia. The infamous convict ships can’t have been a bundle of fun for anyone.

Transportation, across an ocean where THE LAST RHINEMAIDEN has influence, terrifies him. He has a hard enough time crossing the English Channel.

Of course, what Louis really fears, in Paris as in England, is a death sentence.

And the gentlemen of the Cuckoo Club on both sides of the Channel know exactly how that ends.

Next in the SHADOWBOX series: Magic Lantern Shows.

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Shadowbox: A Question of Honour

Louis Beauregard fights his fair share of duels within the pages of SHADOWBOX. The world of organised combat back in 1832 had room for such niceties, before the Queensbury Rules for contact sports came into effect.

Duell im RegenThe duel was based on a code of honour, and fought mainly to resolve differences caused by some suggested or actual slight.

Honour … remains awake in us like a last lamp in a temple that has been laid to waste.
Alfred de Vigny, Servitude et grandeur militaires (1835)

A duellist didn’t have to kill his opponent in order to satisfy the “rules” of the duel. As Wikipedia explains:

At the choice of the offended party, the duel could be fought to a number of conclusions:

  • To first blood, in which case the duel would be ended as soon as one man was wounded, even if the wound was minor.
  • Until one man was so severely wounded as to be physically unable to continue the duel.
  • To the death (“à l’outrance”), in which case there would be no satisfaction until one party was mortally wounded.

For a pistol duel the parties would be placed back-to-back with loaded weapons in hand and walk a set number of paces, turn to face the opponent, and shoot. The more grave the insult, the fewer the paces agreed upon.A matched pair of engraved and gilded muzzle loading percussion lock dueling pistols. Located in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Each party would fire one shot. If neither man was hit and if the challenger stated that he was satisfied, the duel would be declared over.

If the challenger was not satisfied, the duel continued until one man was wounded or killed. To have more than three exchanges of fire was considered barbaric and, on the rare occasion that no hits were achieved, somewhat ridiculous.

It has a strange, quick jar upon the ear,
That cocking of a pistol, when you know
A moment more will bring the sight to bear
Upon your person, twelve yards off or so.
– Byron, Don Juan

Of course, within the pages of SHADOWBOX my characters are duelling in Paris. After the French Revolution, duelling in France was codified and rigorous rules were set in place to ensure those who fought in duels were properly accounted for. (The link is to French wikipedia; good luck translating it, as my schoolgirl French is not up to it).

"A Duel", by Eugene Louis Lami

“A Duel”, by Eugene Louis Lami

Alexander Dumas used the duel as a form of dramatic tension in many of his novels, especially effective in The Count of Monte Cristo, where the Count and the young Vicomte de Morcerf come to blows.

Between 1826 and 1834 more than 200 men died in France as a result of duels. One of these was Évariste Galois, a radical republican and something of a romantic figure in French mathematical history. He died in a duel at the age of 20.

So while Louis Beauregard accepts those who challenge him, the potential to be convicted of murder still hovered in the background of every encounter. And so did the potential to die.

The best memorial for a mighty man is to gain honor ere death.
Beowulf, VII.

A Pistol Duel, (c) Barbara Sobczynska

A Pistol Duel, (c) Barbara Sobczynska

Next post in the SHADOWBOX series: Crime & Punishment.

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Shadowbox: No Sleep Till Medtime

Heaven help you if you were sick in 1832.

No antibiotics, no anasthaesia, no hygiene.

Before Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole, there was no disinfectant in hospitals. Few hospitals either. Most of the time people suffered, or endured barbaric treatments in order to be rid of their ailment.Sugar Nippers. Ouch!

Disease ruled.

The poor quality of food for much of the population didn’t help. Sugar, cheap and plentiful from Caribbean sugar-cane plantations or from Norfolk beet-fields, was a well-known evil. Still haunts us now in the shape of HFCS and the obesity epidemic.

Back in 1832, sugar was sold in great cones that required special cutters. Oddly enough, some surgical instruments didn’t look much different. Rotten teeth and bad breath were only part of the problem.

Paris endured a cholera epidemic in 1832, shortly before the arrival of my characters in the city. There’s a suggestion (quoted in Eric Hazan’s The Invention of Paris) that the June Rebellion was partly fuelled by the attitude of the Parisian bourgeoisie towards the poor during the epidemic, the wealthy retreating to their country estates while the rest of the population took their chances with disease.

London, also, had its epidemics. Poor sanitation was one problem, as highlighted by the Great Stink in 1858, which ultimately led to the sewer system and the underground rivers of London.

In the face of disease, the medical profession had no effective drugs; it would be another hundred years before Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. The best you could hope for was successful inoculation, and anasthaesia.

So I had a problem with medication in 1832. In the first chapter of the novel I had one of my characters put to sleep.

Only as a temporary measure, I might add. But how? My initial thoughts were of an injection, a nice tot of Tincture of Opium slipped into a vein for a good night’s sleep.

Not possible.

While the ancient Greeks were credited with using needles back in the 4th Century BC, there was no way a manufacturer could make the incredibly small-bore tubes needed for modern hypodermic syringes until much later than 1832.

On top of that, how do you measure a dose of sedative when you have no way of ascertaining the purity of your solution, or its strength?

Or its hygiene?

Remember, no Seacole, no Nightingale – no cleanliness. Dr Alexander Wood of Edinburgh (thank you again Wikipedia) didn’t invent the glass syringe until 1853, so I had to look for another way.

In the first chapter, my character has already tried to knock himself out with drink and failed to achieve his aim. With a stinking hangover and a murder on his conscience, he has to be willing to try almost anything.

So he does.

I presented him with a physician and a bag of ether.

William T G Morton administers ether

Laughing-gas was only just becoming popular in the salons and drawing-rooms of the idle. Sir Humphry Davy, a close acquaintance of Sir Roderick Impey Murchison, was a fan. The medical use of the gas – N2O, to give its proper name – was yet to be fully explored.

So Louis Beauregard takes a punt on an experimental treatment for his very uncommon ailment.

He’s also toked to the eyeballs with laudanum so he forgets the crimes he committed, but that’s another story altogether.


Next post in the SHADOWBOX series: A Question of Honour.

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Shadowbox: Luxury

Luxury. As necessary in 1832 as it is today.

Some of the items treasured back then have remained the same, while others were yet to be invented. When we think of luxury consumer goods today the usual suspects arise, glittering in the mind’s eye:

  • The Aston Martin;
  • The Cartier;

So far beyond the pocket of any ordinary person they might as well be made of magic.

Aston Martin Vanquish. 'nuff said.

Those of us who are mere mortals make do with lesser treasures: Belgian chocolates, French wine, a first-class rail ticket for a day trip, even an added shot of syrup in our once-a-week latte. Many moons ago I used to treat myself to a fresh melon once a fortnight. Bliss.

Back in 1832 there was a similar disparity in luxury.

For the wealthy, this meant racehorses, vineyards, sugar plantations in the Caribbean and slaves to work them, mansions and country estates such as Highclere Castle, hounds with which to hunt foxes thereupon, servants to run those households, silks and perfumes and jewelled music-boxes and kaleidoscopes.

The ornately gilded coaches used by the Royal Family for state occasions fall into this category.

Scottish State Coach. Not Stage Coach. That's a bus company.

Those of us at the broader end of the social scale had sugar, cakes and sweets and jam. We had gin and ribbons. Fine china in small quantities, linen and glassware and perhaps a horse or a stout pair of boots for transport.

Destitution was, according to Dickens and Zola, close on the heels of many. Luxury for those was a dry bed and a hot meal.

And the luxury of freedom, of democracy, of self-determination, was denied to many more who contributed their labour to the fortunes of the wealthy.

More fragile items have not lasted these past 200 years. Few copies exist of the handbooks Giovanni Belzoni distributed at the exhibition of his replica of the tomb of Seti I, for all the hundreds he had printed. (I have actually held one of those copies. The archaeologist in me was thrilled!)

Wooden dollies, cheap toys, tinderboxes and lace-trimmed bonnets – rust and mildew take the poor woman’s treasures faster than those of the rich.

But even perfumes evaporate, over time, or go rancid. The recipes used by perfumers in 1832 make use of natural products no longer available, such as musk. The synthetic scent used today cannot match the power and complexity of the raw odour.

Likewise ivory, once used in copious quantites for piano keys, billiard balls, the inlaid panels on firearms. Whale oil, cleanest fuel for lamps, and ambergris – another perfume ingredient from the past. Cochineal and Tyrian purple.

Tyrian purple in action.

Plastics and synthetics – chemicals – take the place of these natural items nowadays. Luxury has moved on.

And chemicals are another element of the story in SHADOWBOX which overshadows the characters, starting with the medication Louis Beauregard relies on.

Next post in the SHADOWBOX series: No Sleep Till Medtime.

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Published in: on June 18, 2014 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on Shadowbox: Luxury  
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Shadowbox: The Amber Room

The Amber Room of Peter the Great underscores the story of SHADOWBOX with subtlety and myth.

Godfrey Woolverham, one of my characters, is descended from the craftsman who created the Amber Room. And in laying the foundations of the novel, I created a gem of my own:

Royal Amber, a fantastic material more occult and obscure than ordinary Baltic amber, with rare and significant qualities.

Royal Amber is an invention, a fictitious treasure, but even ordinary amber takes a special place within the story of SHADOWBOX, and in the mythos of the Cuckoo Club beyond the pages of the novel.

One such place where Royal Amber exerts its influence is within the Amber Room.

Andrey Zeest's 1917 autochrome photograph of the Amber Room in the Catherine Palace, St Petersburg, RussiaThe real-life Amber Room is a chamber of shadows: a symbol of wealth and power, a marvel of craft and a WW2 enigma all rolled into one artefact. Stories of its loss – looting, under the UN definition – at the end of the Second World War, and its possible rediscovery decades later (most recently in the collection of Cornelius Gurlitt, an elderly Austrian), only serve to heighten the mystique.

Of course, the Amber Room is made of ordinary amber – six tons of the stuff. It’s a breathtaking accomplishment of craft and as dazzling a symbol of wealth as a Fabergé egg.

In 1832, while my characters swan around Paris and London, the Amber Room exerts a strange attraction all the way from St Petersburg.

You can find much the same historical information all across the first few pages of Google if you want to look for more on the Amber Room. Wikipedia is a good place to start, and the St Petersburg page.

Here’s a tickler:

The Amber Room, a dazzling construction of panels of the golden resin, backed with gold leaf and mirrors, was commissioned by Frederick I of Prussia.

Presented as a gift to the Russian Tsar Peter the Great in 1716, the room – made up of 100,000 pieces of intricately carved amber of varying golden hues – was installed in the magnificent Catherine Palace near St Petersburg.

A small chamber, the first suite of panels enclosed an area 11 feet by 11 feet.

The amber panels were crafted by Gottfried Wolfram, master craftsman to the Danish Royal Court, with amber masters Ernst Schacht and Gottfried Turau from Gdańsk in modern-day Poland.

Gottfried Wolfram enters SHADOWBOX as an ancestor of one of my main characters. His connection to the Amber Room – and to Royal Amber, my fictitious gem – powers part of the story.

During World War II the chamber was looted by Germany and taken from Leningrad to Königsberg on the Baltic coast of modern-day Poland. Knowledge of its whereabouts was lost in the chaos at the end of the war.

Interestingly, Königsberg was the place from where the Teutonic Knights launched the Baltic Crusades in 1242. Not short of historical resonance, these places.

In 1979 efforts began to rebuild the Amber Room at Tsarskoye Selo, its first home in Russia. In 2003, after decades of work by Russian craftsmen, the reconstructed chamber was inaugurated in the Catherine Palace in Saint Petersburg.

And in SHADOWBOX the Amber Room tugs at the edges of the story with a magnetism borne of myth.

Next post in the SHADOWBOX series: Luxury, nearly 200 years ago.

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Shadowbox: Optical Illusions

The human eye – och, all animal eyes – is/are attracted by movement. It’s how you work out if something is there to eat you or be eaten (or lurrved). This attraction to sparkly items plays out on screens and in picture shows and in jewellery shop windows to this day.

Optical illusions work in much the same way.

Optical illusions such as the magic lantern amused people in the past as much as they divert the imagination today. During the 19th century, including the time when I set SHADOWBOX, these toys and gizmos flowered in popularity.

One of these optical illusions is the kaleidoscope, invented in 1816 by David Brewster, of Scotland.

A universal mania for the instrument seized all classes, from the lowest to the highest, from the most ignorant to the most learned, and every person not only felt, but expressed the feeling that a new pleasure had been added to their existence. – The Brewster Society

Not just for children, the kaleidoscope – although regarded as a toy today – was a cheap way of entertaining people with time on their hands.

An antique form of playing with shapes and colours and dimensions, refractions, reflections, you can make one with polished metal or mirrored glass, or as most nowadays with a mirror coated plastic.

Kaleidoscope Design 12 (c) Dennis Boots at

Kaleidoscope Design 12 (c) Dennis Boots

The coloured fragments at the far end are the driving force and however pleasing to the eye, the use of mirrors to cast magical shapes before the viewer is where the entertainment lies.

Remember the films from the sixties showing “swinging” parties – Austin Powers, I’m looking at you – with kaleidoscope patterns projected onto the walls? Not as nauseating as the pulsating oil-on-water effects, sparkly and diverting.

Nowadays we use smartphones and iPads for much the same purpose and you can get an app for kaleidoscope if you want. But the first kaleidoscope was invented in 1816, well in advance of the time period of SHADOWBOX, allowing me a little leeway in my imagination.

In SHADOWBOX I make use of the effects of the kaleidoscope to form a weapon – a tool – to confuse an enemy. The imagined Shadow Box is an entirely invented contraption, whereby one might use sunlight to cast shadows into corners to confuse an opponent.

I have no idea whether this is physically possible.

The invention of the shadow box provides impetus to my story. I wanted to give Godfey Woolverham something to hang his hopes on, a tool which might lead him to victory but also a link to his forebears, to the great amber carvers who made the Amber Room, one of whom was his fictional grandfather.

Because Godfrey needs all the help he can get.

Next post in the SHADOWBOX series: The Amber Room.

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Shadowbox: The Magic Lantern Picture Show

How do you tell a story in pictures when all you have is light and shadow?

Magic Lanterns: the original picture theatre, a magic lantern.

The magic lantern or Laterna Magica is an early type of image projector developed in the 17th century. – Wikipedia

A magic lantern is a means of illustrating a story. Nothing more, nothing less, and nothing short of magical.

More than a slide show (banish all thoughts of boring Powerpoint presentations – the worst I’ve seen include spreadsheets that look like tartan), a magic lantern show is theatre, with elements of Punch & Judy, Indonesian shadow puppetry and a spot of what-the butler-saw.

In fact, the peep-show machines of popular culture were direct descendants of the magic lantern.

Magic lanterns played an important part in the development of photography, but especially of the cinema. The first narrative films (the link does a great job of explaining how the scenes in the film combined to tell the narrative) show stories in much the same way, with musical accompaniment and sign cards to tell the audience what’s going on.

This makes the storytelling even more important, not less.

The Laterna Magica, Paul Sandby (c.1760)

The Laterna Magica, Paul Sandby (c.1760)

The flash-bang of modern CGI and special effects has a tendency to reduce the story to a background noise against which to display big fiery explosions or Sandra Bullock drifting off into space.

With a simple set of cinematic tools, for example The Call of Cthulhu, you’re reduced to the bare minimum of distractions from the story. Just like a magic lantern show.

The magic lantern man played an important part in the lives of distributed communities, along with other commercial travellers – salesmen, tinkers, knife-grinders, nonconformist preachers – who brought news from other places and spread the word about your own home town.

The Magic Lantern Man.

The Magic Lantern Man. “Itinerant Lanternist”, Christie’s of London Sale 5142 — The Ganz Collection of Magic Lanterns, Optical Toys & Pre-Cinema 22 January 2007

The magic lantern isn’t a sophisticated piece of equipment. At its most basic, it’s a slide projector. In the hands of an accomplished entertainer, however, the magic lantern show becomes a thrilling adventure, a horror story, a sweet romance.

Anything, in fact, that a story is.

Magic lanterns were part of the landscape in the world of 1832 in which I set my novel, SHADOWBOX.

The population at large would have been familiar with the figure of the man with the box on his back, and regarded his arrival in their community with delight and excitement (think how the hobbits welcome Gandalf in Hobbiton at the start of LOTR, before Bilbo’s party).

Even in the cities where entertainment was widespread, cosmopolitan and less personal, a magic lantern show was a popular entertainment. The opportunity to sit in the dark in mixed company – ain’t it always popular?

Magic lantern men still perform at folk festivals and steam fairs across the country. You’ll find them at the Dorset Steam Fair and the Durham Miners’ Gala.

In an era where most people find their news and entertainment online, remember the man with the box on his back who walks from village to village, sharing stories we’d recognise today regardless of what else is missing in 1832.

Next post in the SHADOWBOX series: What’s Missing In 1832.

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Shadowbox: Camera Obscura

A small element within the storyline of SHADOWBOX is a fascinating piece of equipment: the camera obscura.

An ingenious device for capturing images using a simple set of mirrors and the refractive qualities of light, the camera obscura

is used in drawing and for entertainment, and was one of the inventions that led to photography and the cameraWikipedia

Most of the time it was used to paint landscapes. Around the time that Giovanni Belzoni was making his fabulous facsimile of the tomb of Seti I, landscape artists were using a camera obscura to map out Greece, then under Ottoman rule.

Artists such as Vermeer are suspected of using one, and we know that Leonardo Da Vinci was familiar with the tool.

An… important advantage of the camera obscura is that it narrows the hopelessly wide range of brightness found in nature to a more limited number of tonal values reproducible by the painter’s pigments –

In other words, using a camera obscura makes painting easier because it limits the number of colours the eye can make out. Useful if, like my character, you have next to no artistic training.

But there’s more to the camera obscura than just painting. It can be used for entertainment too, and a rather saucy depiction of this is used in Ken Russell’s The Music Lovers (1968) in a scene that presages how Richard Chamberlain’s Tchaikovsky and his new wife (played by Glenda Jackson) really aren’t suited for one another.

Modern day photographers use the camera obscura to take photographs, while others design and install public artworks of the type. Here’s one at the top of Cairngorm, in Scotland (note: weather and clear view not normal):

Camera Obscura in the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

Still in use today, the artists who sketched the landscapes of Greece and Italy on the Grand Tour used a camera obscura to help them capture the details. One of these artists, Simone Pomardi, hires my character Louis Beauregard as a trainee draughtsman in the course of my novel, SHADOWBOX.

Is Louis any good, though?

Next in the SHADOWBOX series: The Magic Lantern Picture Show.

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Shadowbox: First Light on Paris

The world of SHADOWBOX exists before photography became commonplace – but only just. Below is the very first photograph, of anywhere, ever, taken in the late 1820s:

View from the Window at Le Gras, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (1826 or 1827).

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce captured the scene with a camera obscura focused onto a pewter plate coated with Bitumen of Judea, a naturally occurring asphalt.

Boulevard du Temple“, a daguerreotype made by Louis Daguerre in 1838, is generally accepted as the earliest photograph to include people. It depicts a boot-black with a customer on a street corner in Paris. If you look down in the bottom right-hand corner, there’s a tiny black figure with a stovepipe hat and his leg at an angle.

Boulevard du Temple, by Daguerre (1838)

There’s an excellent analysis at including an account of how the photograph  survived the bombing of Munich in 1940. If you follow the link and click on the picture over there, it will open up a larger version where you can see the details – the cobbles on the street surface, the awnings of the shops along the boulevard, the painted advertisement on the side of a building.

In addition, has a rather fabulous set of pictures showing the Boulevard du Temple location in 2002 and a set of maps, engravings from the period, and satellite photos. (Sadly, most of the site is in French so if you want to do more than just skim, the language may be a barrier. My school French from thirty years ago just about copes with the gist.)

But the one which haunts me, with the same ghostly quality you find in the film Vampyr (1932), is Ramoneurs, by Charles Nègre.

Ramoneurs, by Charles Negre (c.1852)

Although Ramoneurs dates to 1850s, the Paris in the background is much the same as the Paris in the boot cleaner photo.

Other photos of Paris from this early period show the streets, the houses, rarely the people. This was due to the long exposure times required for the image to ‘take’ on the negative.

In my search for a copy of Ramoneurs I also came across another photo of the same trio, Trois ramoneurs au repos quai Bourbon, where the two figures on the right are seated facing the camera and the boy with the bag is staring out over the quai. Up to that point, you could be forgiven for thinking these chimney-sweeps weren’t so young, but go look at them sitting with their backs to the wall and see if you don’t agree: they’re just kids.

And while I know it’s another rebellion, another revolution, the image in this photograph is still relevant, 16 years after the June Rebellion which foreshadows the events of SHADOWBOX:

Commune de Paris barricade, Rue d'Allemagne (1871) - Avenue Jean-Jaurès

Commune de Paris barricade, Rue d’Allemagne (1871)

I could spend ages roaming around websites with early photographs. It’s a form of archaeology, after all – how the past actually looked, which we can use to compare with how the remains present themselves on the ground.

Taken twenty years after the events in SHADOWBOX, do these photographs show what Paris might have looked like, even a little, in 1832?

Next in the SHADOWBOX series: Camera Obscura.

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