The Art of Shadowgraphy

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Though Shadowgraphy has been known from time immemorial, and as ’twere a thing of bye-gone days, Trewey’s practice of the art comes as a novelty, and is highly entertaining alike to the schoolboy and the lean and slippered pantaloon.

Thus the overwrought prefatory note in this small book of hand-shadow exercises by Felicien Trewey. In addition to diagrams showing the creation of the familiar animal shapes there’s a brief life of Monsieur Trewey, “the original Fantaisist Humoristique”, and some details of Trewey’s shadow pantomimes. Since these involve various props I find them a bit of a cheat, rather like origami shapes that require two sheets of paper or even a pair of scissors.

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The book opens and closes with ads for Hamley’s toy shop, still the most celebrated shop of its kind in London. If it’s a surprise to see¬†Hamley’s promoting their wares with devils and skulls, the latter seem fitting for the page of sinister “ventriloquial figures”, two of which are shown smoking cigarettes. The walking figure with “pneumatic mouth” is no doubt the one that tries to strangle you while you sleep.

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