|Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert
|[A Paris. Avec Approbation et Privilege Du Roy. c.1751-1772]
|Image 240 x 161 mm, Plate 255 x 185 mm, Sheet 293 x 220 mm
A depiction of 'Figures of White Magic Unveiled,' the introductory plate in a series of illustrations of magic tricks and illusions from the Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers. The top vignette depicts a magician midway through the performance of an illusion. He holds a magic wand, from which a puff of smoke has exploded, scattering a deck of cards. His performance space, a dark high-ceiling room with candelabra and fleur-de-lis wallpaper, features four tables of magical aids, including a small bird in a bottle between two candlesticks, a large locked chest, a figurine of a turbaned Turk, and a small crank-handled piece of equipment attached to a candle-holder. The scene below seems to be an explanation of an escape act. The two men involved are chained to a pair of columns, the chains wound around their necks and ankles. A small diagram to the top left corner shows the use of mirrors in creating simple optical illusions.
Encyclopédie was a general encyclopaedia published in France between 1751 and 1772, with later supplements, revised editions, and translations. It had many writers, known as the Encyclopédistes. It was edited by Denis Diderot and, until 1759, co-edited by Jean le Rond d'Alembert. The Encyclopédie is most famous for representing the thought of the Enlightenment. According to Denis Diderot in the article "Encyclopédie", the Encyclopédie's aim was "to change the way people think". He and the other contributors advocated for the secularisation of learning away from the Jesuits. Diderot wanted to incorporate all of the world's knowledge into the Encyclopaedia and hoped that the text could disseminate all this information to the public and future generations. It was also the first encyclopaedia to include contributions from many named contributors, and the first to describe the mechanical arts.
Condition: Minor time-toning to edges of sheet. Small wormhole to bottom right corner, without loss to plate or image.