The J. Paul Getty Museum

Compound Microscope and Case

Object Details

Title:

Compound Microscope and Case

Artists/Makers:

Micrometric stage invented by Michel-Ferdinand d'Albert d'Ailly, 6th duke of Chaulnes (French, 1714 - 1769)

Gilt-bronze mounts attributed to Jacques Caffieri (French, 1678 - 1755, master 1714)

Culture:

French

Place:

Paris, France (Place Created)

Date:

about 1751

Medium:

Gilt bronze, enamel, shagreen and glass; wood, tooled leather, brass, velvet, silver galon and various natural specimens

Object Number:

86.DH.694

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Object Description

This microscope was made for an aristocratic amateur scientist, who would have used it in his cabinet de curiosité to explore the mysteries of the natural world. These cabinets were single rooms, or even an elaborate series of rooms, containing a variety of natural specimens including shells, fossils, minerals, bottles of preserved animals, and a variety of stuffed exotic animals including armadillos and crocodiles.

The Getty Museum's microscope still works, and the case is fitted with a drawer filled with the necessary attachments such as tweezers, extra lenses, and slides of such items as geranium petals, hair, fly wings, and fleas. Some of the slides are from the 1800s, indicating that the instrument was in continual use for over a century.

With attachments such as an ocular micrometer, the microscope incorporates the latest scientific technology of the mid-1700s. The design of its curving gilt bronze stand was the height of the Rococo style when it was created. A microscope of this same model belonged to Louis XV, King of France, and was part of his observatory at the Château de La Muette.

Provenance
Provenance
- 1986

Private Collection (Paris, France) [sold, Bel Ameublement, Sotheby's, Monaco, February 23, 1986, lot 901.]

1986

Kila R. Kugel, French, born Russia, 1908 - 2005 (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Devices of Wonder: From the World in a Box to Images on a Screen (November 13, 2001 to February 3, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), November 13, 2001 to February 3, 2002
Paris: Life & Luxury (April 26, 2011 to January 2, 2012)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), April 26 to August 7, 2011
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, September 18, 2011 to January 2, 2012
Bibliography
Bibliography

"Acquisitions/1986." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 15 (1987), p. 212, no. 102.

Perfettini, Jean. Le Galuchat: un matériau mystérieux, une technique oubliée (Dourdan: Éditions H. Vial, 1988), pp. 62-63, ill.

Ronfort, Jean-Nérée. "Science and Luxury: Two Acquisitions by the J. Paul Getty Museum." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 17 (1989), pp. 66-82, fig. 18-19, 21, 23, 25a-b, 28-29.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991), p. 175.

Bremer-David, Charissa, et al. Decorative Arts: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993), p. 94, no. 147.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 4th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 209, ill.

Bremer-David, Charissa, et al. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Decorative Arts (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 86, no. 65.

Wilson, Gillian, and Catherine Hess. Summary Catalogue of European Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), pp. 75-76, no. 147.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 209, ill.

Stafford, Barbara Maria, and Frances Terpak, eds. Devices of Wonder: From the World in a Box to Images on a Screen, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2001), pp. 208-209, 372, fig. 51, no. 92.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 224, ill.

Bremer-David, Charissa, ed. Paris: Life & Luxury in the Eighteenth Century, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011), p. 120, no. 25.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 8th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015), p. 285, ill.

Education Resources
Education Resources

Education Resource

Subjects

Grades

Format

Looking at French Decorative Arts