Magic lantern, 1646.
3 3 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 25cm

Magic lantern, 1646.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Plate taken from 'Ars Magna Lucis Et Umbrae' (published 1646) by Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680). Kircher demonstrated that by placing a lens between a screen and a mirror which had been drawn on, a sharp but inverted image of the text would appear on the screen. By using a spherical water-filled flask as a condenser to concentrate the light, Kircher found that texts painted on the mirror's surface could be projected by light from a candle after dark. These demonstrations eventually resulted in the birth of the magic lantern.

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