c. 1780 Chez Basset vue d’optique of Valletta, capital of Malta ANTIQUE PRINT [ Muza Malta has one ]

Malta - Collection Only


As the print was meant for use with an optical viewing device , like a magnifying glass on a stand , plus mirror ; I will try and explain the reverse text and image situation. I suspect the viewer would sit at a table with their face close to the viewing device , held in a wooden frame about 40 cm off the surface of the table. I suspect the viewer would soley view the print , within a sucession from a folio or book , offered up by a handler sitting on the opposite side of the table. ——– The handler would place the image flat on the table with the text at the base facing the handler. The device would show the title and image facing right way to the viewer having turned the image upside down also side to side. [The viewer would not be able to read the base text]. The viewer would zoom in into the image , having read the title. The handler would then read out the base text which the viewer would be unable to read. The viewer would listen to the base text , then move onto the next image. This is supposition and am willing to stand corrected if I am wrong For further details see our website ; www.robertmorrisonantiques.com TITLE Vue de Malte. (Vue de la Partie Sud Est de la Ville Capitale de Malte.) DESCRIPTION An uncommon c. 1780 Chez Basset vue d’optique of Valletta, capital of Malta. The view reveals a busy and well-defended harbor. Historical Context In 1780, Valletta, Malta, was a flourishing center of culture and commerce, having been established over a century earlier by the Order of St. John. Known for its Baroque architecture and formidable fortifications, the city reflected the wealth and power of the Knights of St. John. As a strategic Mediterranean port, Valletta thrived on trade, attracting merchants from across Europe and beyond. Culturally diverse, the city was a melting pot of European and Mediterranean influences, with a vibrant arts scene. However, this period also marked the beginning of change, with the Knights’ influence waning and the rise of other European powers, foreshadowing significant transformations by the century’s end. Nonetheless, after Malta’s repulsion of the overwhelming Ottoman fleet during the 1565 Great Siege of Malta, Malta and Valletta stood high in the European imagination and a bastion of European culture against the threat of Ottoman conquest. Optical Views Optical Views, or Vues d’Optique, became popular in Europe in the middle part of the 19th century. These views, defined by exaggerated convergence lines, were intended to be studied through lens and mirror apparatuses that emphasized the ‘perspective’ effect. Thus the title, at the top of the view, is written in reverse. Such views became popular in the late 18th century, and publishers of optical views began to pop up all over Europe. Publication History and Census This view was published by Chez Basset, Rue St. Jacques at Ste. Genevieve, Paris. CARTOGRAPHER André Basset (or Bassett) (fl. 1768 – 1784) was a well-known French family of publishers and engravers active on the Rue St. Jacques, Paris, during the 18th and 19th centuries. Basset was best known for the production of low cost optical views of European cities and events. However, the firm also produced games, maps, and other prints. The firm was taken over by Paul-André Bassett in 1784. Paul-André Bassett himself retired in 1819, but the business continued under various family members until 1865. The firm operated from the corner of Rue St Jacques and Rue des Mathurins, Paris.

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