Banquet Piece, Pieter Claez

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Infinite Tulips

Or infinite flying cows!
Adriaen Pauw's garden in Amsterdam (or near Amsterdam) had an mirror illusion trick to multiply the number of tulips in the garden. A looking-glass cabinet stood in the bed of tulips and made the bed look as though it had infinite tulips. Naturally I want an infinity cabinet as well, for my small garden. However, this was in the 1600's and perhaps the book that has a description of such a cabinet is not scanned yet.  Or it was never described. Here's what I found along the way.

Serious References about Adriaen Pauw

  • THE UPSIDE DOWN HOUSE AT THE PARIS FAIR (Hawaiin Planter's Monthly, vol. 19)

    "The strangest thing in the Paris Exposition Midway is the upside down house,' " said a guest at one of the hotels, who lias just returned after a visit to the other side of the pond. "Nobody but a Frenchman would ever have thought of such a thing. It is a big old fashioned three story manor house apparently resting on its gables with the foundation eighty feet in the air. One goes in through a dormer window in the attic and rinds everything upside down. Underfoot are what appear to be the ceilings spouting chandeliers like giant toadstools and overhead are chairs and tables and all the other ordinary furniture of a house miraculously clinging to the reversed Moors. There are even books and small articles scattered about on the carpets and sticking to them as if by magic and on some of the tables lamps are burning top down.

    "Everything about the place contributes to one of the most bewildering illusions imaginable, but the really amazing feature of the house is the view through the windows. They command a considerable expanse of the exposition grounds and incredible as it may seem everything is upside down. One sees all the familiar buildings standing on their heads, throngs of reversed people walking to and fro, and the sky yawning where the earth ought to be. The effect is indescribably startling. I puzzled over those windows for a long time, but I finally discovered their secret. The illusion is produced by means of two mirrors both set at angles in the casings and one reflecting the other. By that means the outside scene is turned about topsy-turvy and cast back into the room with all realism of an open air view. Visitors are not allowed to go very close to the windows for fear, as the attendants say that they will 'fall down into the sky.' A man should be perfectly sober before he inspects the upside-down house.' "
    -- New Orleans Times Democrat (p. 349-350, August 1900)

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