Louis de Carmontelle was an eighteenth-century French draftsman, painter, and garden designer. Beginning in 1783 he painted a series of panoramas on translucent paper that became a popular source of entertainment at royal court gatherings. These rolled-up transparencies (rouleaux transparents) were cranked through a backlit viewing box, and the "moving pictures" were accompanied by live storytelling that gave spectators the experience of journeying through beautiful landscapes. Presented chronologically, the transparencies show the evolution of the eighteenth-century fashions and customs.
The author re-creates the original viewing experience by leading the reader through a series of panoramic scenes and, in the process, offers a lively analysis of social life in the1700s. Drawn from both museum and private collections, the charming illustrations include gatefolds showing the full extent of the J. Paul Getty Museum's Figures Walking in a Parkland as well as many exquisite details of elegant outdoor gatherings and verdant parklands. This book presents all of Carmontelle's extant transparencies, some of which survive only in fragments and a number of which have never been published.
Laurence Chatel de Brancion is the author of Carmontelle au jardin des illusions and Cambacérés: Maître d'oeuvre de Napoléon.