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Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg (1740—1812) landscape painter and scene designer

Thomas Gainsborough (1727—1788) painter and printmaker

Joshua Reynolds (1723—1792) portrait and history painter and art theorist


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(Gk.: ‘image of nature’).

An entertainment invented by Loutherbourg in which spectacular scenic effects were created on a small-scale stage set. Loutherbourg first exhibited the Eidophusikon in London in 1781 with immediate success (more than 100 paying spectators could be seated in the room in which it was displayed). The stage area in which the spectacle was performed was roughly 2 m (7 ft) wide, 1 m (3 ft) high, and 3 m (10 ft) deep, and the effects were produced by means of lights, gauzes, coloured glass, and smoke; musical accompaniment was provided by a harpsichord. Among the scenes presented were views of London and other cities, a storm at sea (ships, figures, and the like were moved by a system of rods and pulleys), and ‘Satan arraying his Troops on the Banks of the Fiery Lake, with the Raising of the Palace of Pandemonium; from Milton’. Gainsborough and Reynolds were among the artists who were impressed by the Eidophusikon. Loutherbourg ran it for several seasons, then sold it to an assistant, who took it on a provincial tour.

Subjects: Art.

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