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German History in Documents and Images
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Raree-Show Images of a Noblemen’s Ball (c. 1730)
A raree-show is an enclosed box in which scenes displayed on the inside are viewed through an opening or a magnifying glass to create the illusion of depth and dimension. During the eighteenth century, they became popular as fairground attractions. They were a means by which the common people could imagine unknown worlds – be it an exotic foreign locale or, in this case, a nobleman’s ball. This colored engraving of a magnificent Rococo ballroom and luxuriously dressed dancers was designed for use in a raree-show. Peering into the device gave viewers the impression of experiencing this splendid spectacle firsthand. Copperplate engraving by Georg Balthasar Probst (1673-1748), c. 1730.