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Daniel Good Rare Books and Engravings

1780 c LONDON Greenwich: Vue d’Optique - A View of Blackwall [Perry’s Yard]

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L. Heudelot sc.

A View of Blanckenwall looking towards Greenwich [with a lively scene of Ship Building to the foreground]

44.7 x 28.5 cm

Published in England, ca 1780

Early edition of this plate by Heudelot. Original hand colour.

Shows Perry's yard on the left with (apparently merchant) shipping moored off, Thames wherries and lighters and a distant view of Greenwich Hospital beyond the low green promontory of the Isle of Dogs. Shipbuilding at Blackwall began in the16th century but was regularized when the East India Company developed a yard there in the early 17th. The company sold it around 1650 and from 1708 the Perry family of shipbuilders became involved there, later as its managing owners. It continued to build Indiamen, warships on contract and other vessels and by the late 18th century was the largest private yard in the world. 

Optical prints (or vue d’optique) were made to be viewed in a special apparatus that provided the viewer with an illusion of depth (early 3-D). The large mirror employed in the viewing machine showed the image reversed so many of these views have the titles and information engraved forward and backwards to facilitate viewing in the machine or by hand. These prints were only produced for a short period of time (1740 to 1790) and then were replaced with the invention of the smaller steroviewer. These views are some of the most distinctive and interesting images of the eighteenth century, and their distinctive engraving style, striking perspective and bright original color makes them as visually delightful as they are historically fascinating.

Top right margin restored outside plate mark. Some light age toning from having been framed. Minor staining to lower margin.