peep-show box

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Leon Battista Alberti (1404—1472) Italian architect, humanist, painter, and art critic

Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627—1678)




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An enclosed cabinet with scenes painted on the interior surfaces in such a way that when viewed through a small opening or eyepiece they give a strong illusion of three-dimensional reality. Alberti may have been the inventor of the peep-show box, for some such device is ascribed to him in a contemporary, anonymous biography, but they had their greatest popularity in 17th-century Holland. Six examples survive from this time, three of them by Samuel van Hoogstraten (the best, c.1655–60, is in the NG, London).

Subjects: Art.

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