Eidophusikon

The Eidophusikon (Greek: Ειδωφυσικον) was a piece of art, no longer extant, thought up by the English actor David Garrick and created by 18th-century French painter Philip James de Loutherbourg. It opened in Leicester Square in London in February 1781.

Viewing the Eidophusikon, circa 1782

Described by the media of his day as "Moving Pictures, representing Phenomena of Nature", the Eidophusikon can be considered an early form of movie making. The effect was achieved by mirrors and pulleys.

A small exhibition centred on the Eidophusikon can currently be seen at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.

A full Eidophusikon, described also as a "small, mechanical theatre", was on display from June to November 2014 at the exhibition "Underworlds" (Unterwelten) in Dortmund, Germany.

The Eidophusikon consisted of a large-scale miniature theatre that tried to recreate the perfect illusion of living nature: sunrise scenes, sunsets, moonlight images, storms, and volcanoes from all over the world, with sound and music effects. The sound and light effects of the Eidophusikon, compared with the shows seen until that time, were especially inventive by virtue of their realism.

ReconstructionsEdit

The first reconstruction was in the year 2004 by Wolkenbilder at the Altonaer Museum Exhibition (cloud images) at Jenisch Has, Hamburg. It was a full-sized theatre with two scenes on the basis of Loutherbourg: from dawn to sunset over the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, and a Mediterranean scene with a lighthouse, moonlight, storms and wrecks.

The second Eidophusikon was created in 2005 by the Yale Center for British Art, New Connecticut and California's Huntington Library, to recreate a display for the English painter Thomas Gainsborough of his collection 'Sensation and sensibility'. Gainsborough was a great admirer of the Eidophusikon. This full-size version was built in conjunction with Kevin Derkin and the Yale technical department under Rick Johnson. The scene, this time, was 'Satan and the Creation of the Pandemonium Palace in Hell', by the poet John Milton from his Paradise Lost.

In 2006, a third Eidophusikon was created by Robert Poulter for the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco. Another Mediterranean scene was created with a volcano, moonlight, a storm and a shipwreck. This Eidophusikon is part of the permanent collection of the museum.

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