The Image in Early Cinema
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The Image in Early Cinema

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213 pages

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In The Image in Early Cinema, the contributors examine intersections between early cinematic form, technology, theory, practice, and broader modes of visual culture. They argue that early cinema emerged within a visual culture composed of a variety of traditions in art, science, education, and image making. Even as methods of motion picture production and distribution materialized, they drew from and challenged practices and conventions in other mediums. This rich visual culture produced a complicated, overlapping network of image-making traditions, innovations, and borrowing among painting, tableaux vivants, photography, and other pictorial and projection practices. Using a variety of concepts and theories, the contributors explore these crisscrossing traditions and work against an essentialist notion of media to conceptualize the dynamic interrelationship between images and their context.

Introduction / Scott Curtis, Philippe Gauthier, Tom Gunning, and Joshua Yumibe

Part I: Form
1. La part picturale du tableau-style / Valentine Robert
2. The Unsettling of Vision: Tableaux Vivants, Early Cinema, and Optical Illusions / Daniel Wiegand
3. The Vision Scene: Revelation and Remediation / Frank Gray
4. Animating Antiquity / Laura Horak
5. Caricature et films comiques à la Belle Époque: quand le dessin de presse rencontre le cinema / Jérémy Houillère
6. De la presse illustrée à l'actualité filmée (1894-1910) : l'émergence d'une nouvelle culture visuelle de l'information ? / Rodolphe Gahéry
7. From Pathé to Paramount: Visual Design in Movie Advertising to 1915 / Richard Abel
8. Landscape Topoi: From the Mountains to the Sea / Jennifer Peterson
9. A View Aesthetic without a View? Space and Place in Early Norwegian Polar Expedition Films / Gunnar Iversen

Part II: Material
10. Between "Recognition" and "Abstraction": Early Vocational Training Films / Florian Hoof
11. Ruptured Perspectives: The "View," Early Special Effects, and Film History / Leslie DeLassus
12. Surface and Color: Stenciling in Applied Arts, Fashion Illustration, and Cinema / Jelena Rakin
13. The Color Image / Joshua Yumibe

Part III: Networks
14. Shared Affinities and "Kunstwollen": Stylistics of the Cinematic Image in the 1910s and Art Theory at the Turn of the Century in Germany / Jörg Schweinitz
15. Techniques in Circulation: Sovereignty, Imaging Technology, and Art Education in Qajar Iran / Kaveh Askari
16. Corporeality and Female Modernity: Intermediality and Early Film Celebrities / Marina Dahlquist
17. A Scientific Instrument? Animated Photography among Other New Imaging Techniques / Ian Christie
18. Advertising with Moving Pictures: International Harvester's The Romance of the Reaper (1910-13) / Gregory A. Waller
19. The City View(ed): Muybridge's Panoramas of San Francisco and their Afterlives in Early Cinema / Dimitrios Latsis
20. California Landscapes: John Divola and the Cine-Geography of Serial Photography / Charles Wolfe
21. What is a Fake Image? / Frank Kessler and Sabine Lenk
22. The Lantern Image between Stage and Screen / Artemis Willis

Part IV: Discourses
23. Pictorialism and the Picture: Art, Photography, and the "Doctrine of Taste" in the Discourse on Transitional Era Quality Films / Tom Paulus
24. Boredom and Visions in Vachel Lindsay's Film Theory / Ryan Pierson
25. Falling Desperately in Love with the Image on Screen: "The Flictoflicker Girl" (1913) and Cinematic Structures of Fascination / Denis Condon
26. An "Advertising Punch" in Every Frame: Image Making in Early Advertising Films / Martin L. Johnson

Appendix: Translations
27. English Translation of Chapter 1: Early Cinema's Realizations: The Pictorial in the Tableau Style / Valentine Robert
28. English Translation of Chapter 5: Caricature and Comic Films in the Belle Époque: When the Illustrated Press Met the Cinema / Jérémy Houillère
29. English Translation of Chapter 6: From the Illustrated Press to Filmed Actualities (1894-1910): The Emergence of a New "Visual Information Culture"? / Rodolphe Gahéry



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Date de parution 22 mars 2018
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EAN13 9780253034427
Langue English
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Form and Material
Edited by Scott Curtis, Philippe Gauthier, Tom Gunning, and Joshua Yumibe
Indiana University Press
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 350
1320 East 10th Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
© 2018 by Domitor
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses’ Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Curtis, Scott, editor. | Gauthier, Philippe, 1980- editor. | Gunning, Tom, 1949- editor. | Yumibe, Joshua, 1974- editor.
Title: The image in early cinema : form and material / edited by Scott Curtis, Philippe Gauthier, Tom Gunning, and Joshua Yumibe.
Description: Bloomington : Indiana University Press, [2018] | Series: Early cinema in review: proceedings of Domitor | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2018005348 (print) | LCCN 2018001494 (ebook) | ISBN 9780253034403 (e-book) | ISBN 9780253034397 (pbk. : alk. paper)
Subjects: LCSH: Motion pictures—Philosophy. | Motion pictures and the arts. | Cinematography.
Classification: LCC PN1995.25 (print) | LCC PN1995.25 .I43 2018 (ebook) | DDC 791.4301—dc23
LC record available at
1 2 3 4 5 23 22 21 20 19 18
Introduction / Scott Curtis, Philippe Gauthier, Tom Gunning, and Joshua Yumibe
Part I: Form
1 La part picturale du tableau-style / Valentine Robert
2 The Unsettling of Vision: Tableaux Vivants, Early Cinema, and Optical Illusions / Daniel Wiegand
3 The Vision Scene: Revelation and Remediation / Frank Gray
4 Animating Antiquity / Laura Horak
5 Caricature et films comiques à la Belle Époque: quand le dessin de presse rencontre le cinéma / Jérémy Houillère
6 De la presse illustrée à l’actualité filmée (1894–1910): l’émergence d’une nouvelle « culture visuelle de l’information »? / Rodolphe Gahéry
7 From Pathé to Paramount: Visual Design in Movie Advertising to 1915 / Richard Abel
8 Landscape Topoi: From the Mountains to the Sea / Jennifer Peterson
9 A View Aesthetic without a View? Space and Place in Early Norwegian Polar Expedition Films / Gunnar Iversen
Part II: Material
10 Between Recognition and Abstraction: Early Vocational Training Films / Florian Hoof
11 Ruptured Perspectives: The “View,” Early Special Effects, and Film History / Leslie DeLassus

12 Surface and Color: Stenciling in Applied Arts, Fashion Illustration, and Cinema / Jelena Rakin
13 The Color Image / Joshua Yumibe
Part III: Networks
14 Shared Affinities and “Kunstwollen”: Stylistics of the Cinematic Image in the 1910s and Art Theory at the Turn of the Century in Germany / Jörg Schweinitz
15 Techniques in Circulation: Sovereignty, Imaging Technology, and Art Education in Qajar Iran / Kaveh Askari
16 Corporeality and Female Modernity: Intermediality and Early Film Celebrities / Marina Dahlquist
17 A Scientific Instrument? Animated Photography among Other New Imaging Techniques / Ian Christie
18 Advertising with Moving Pictures: International Harvester’s The Romance of the Reaper (1910–1913) / Gregory A. Waller
19 The City View(ed): Muybridge’s Panoramas of San Francisco and Their Afterlives in Early Cinema / Dimitrios Latsis
20 California Landscapes: John Divola and the Cine-Geography of Serial Photography / Charles Wolfe
21 What is a Fake Image? / Frank Kessler and Sabine Lenk
22 The Lantern Image between Stage and Screen / Artemis Willis
Part IV: Discourses
23 Pictorialism and the Picture: Art, Photography, and the “Doctrine of Taste” in the Discourse on Transitional-Era Quality Films / Tom Paulus
24 Boredom and Visions in Vachel Lindsay’s Film Theory / Ryan Pierson
25 Falling Desperately in Love with the Image on Screen: “The Flictoflicker Girl” (1913) and Cinematic Structures of Fascination / Denis Condon

26 An “Advertising Punch” in Every Frame: Image-Making in Early Advertising Films / Martin L. Johnson
Appendix: Translations
27 English Translation of Chapter 1: The Pictorial in the Tableau Style / Valentine Robert
28 English Translation of Chapter 5: Caricature and Comic Films in the Belle Époque: When the Illustrated Press Met the Cinema / Jérémy Houillère
29 English Translation of Chapter 6: From the Illustrated Press to Filmed Actualities (1894–1910): The Emergence of a New “Visual Information Culture”? / Rodolphe Gahéry
Subject Index
Film Index
Scott Curtis, Philippe Gauthier, Tom Gunning, Joshua Yumibe
D OMITOR, THE INTERNATIONAL society for the study of early cinema, is a non-profit, bilingual association for scholars interested in all aspects of early cinema from its beginnings to 1915. Domitor is dedicated to exploring new methods of historical research; understanding and promoting the international exchange of information, documents, and ideas; forging alliances with curators and film archivists; and nurturing the work of early career researchers. One of its most important activities is its biennial international conference. The first was held in Québec in 1990, and subsequent conferences were staged in Lausanne, New York, Paris, Washington, DC, Udine, Montreal, Utrecht, Ann Arbor, Perpignan/Girona, Toronto, and Brighton. The University of Chicago and Northwestern University jointly hosted the 14th International Domitor Conference in Chicago and Evanston, Illinois, in 2014, and this book is its proceedings. 1
Domitor conferences often prompt scholars to consider early cinema in terms of a theme (religion, borders) or some facet of the object itself (sound, distribution, technology). Recently, the conferences have encouraged the membership to view early cinema through the lenses of different disciplines, such as performance studies. The present collection continues this trend by highlighting the intersection between early cinema and multidisciplinary work on “the image.” As we know, early cinema emerged within a visual culture that was composed of a variety of traditions in art, science, education, and image-making. Even as methods of motion picture production, distribution, and exhibition materialized, they drew from and challenged practices and conventions in, for example, photography and painting. This rich visual culture produced a complicated overlapping network of image-making traditions, innovations, and borrowings among paintings, tableaux vivants , photography, and other pictorial and projection practices. Film and media scholars have created the concepts of “media archaeology” (Zielinski) and “intermediality” (Belting) to account for such crisscrossing traditions and to work against an essentialist notion of media, while other theorists have suggested ideas such as “image families” (Mitchell), “image-systems” (Barthes), and “an ecology of images” (Sontag) to conceptualize the dynamic interrelationship between images and their context. This collection seeks to trace the various interactions involved in forming a new moving-image culture using the broad category of “the image” to examine intersections between visual culture broadly conceived and early cinematic form, technology, theory, and practice. 2
Of course, as W. J. T. Mitchell has pointed out, the concept of “the image” refers to so many divergent phenomena that it hardly makes sense to subsume them under one category. Here we make no effort to delineate the theoretical outlines of an image map that would essentially cover the world. Instead, we use historical case studies to probe boundaries between disciplines and practices to test what might be included therein. From these cases it becomes evident that the range of what might be considered an image at the turn of the last century is not infinite; we are concerned primarily with visual culture as manifested in art, science, commerce, and education. So paintings, photographs, postcards, illustrations, graphs, and advertisements are just a few of the typical image types with which magic lantern slides and motion pictures interacted. How did they interact exactly? Image and medium depend on each other, of course, but a new medium often borrows an image from another or appropriates an image production method or presentation practice as it establishes itself. Or a group, such as advertisers or entertainers, might take up a new medium as part of its existing ensemble of representational technologies, just as writers might borrow a way of thinking about images, such as painting and photographs, to measure and compare the function and value of a medium against their own literary one.
“Borrowing” implies debt, however, so “migration” might be another way to approach this interaction, as Hans Belting has suggested: “Images resemble nomads in the sense that they take residence in one medium after another.” 3 A scene from a familiar painting might migrate to a tableau vivant, to a poster, to a magic lantern slide, and to a film, each time changing slightly and resonating differently with each new medium and audience. A stenciling practice from book illustration might migrate to postcard design and then to early color film production. Or a scientific experiment in fluid dynamics, staged in high-speed photographs of falling drops, might transform when reworked and refilmed for a motion picture. Indeed, this last example indicates most clearly that images do not simply migrate of their own accord; there is much effort involved to target, adapt, produce, distribute, and champion any image, convention, or practice that migrates from one medium, network, and community to another. The chapters in this collection underscore the need to think of the circulation of images as labor-intensive appropriations.
If any given image is encrusted with layers of pre- and after-images accumulated in its many migrations, it is also true that no medium exists by itself. Media coexist, overlapping and mixing parts and practices, so that they “mirror, quote, and correct or censor one another.” 4 In tracing the migration of images, the case studies here emphasize the necessarily intermedial character of these pathways as, say, photography overlapped with film as film connected with painting—and vice versa. Even as new media emerged, old media lingered or, better, transformed both in their audiences’ perception and in practice, often as a way to survive, but more often as a reflexive response to a crowded field. Comparing the chapters by Dimitrios Latsis and Charles Wolfe, for example, we see snapshots of how serial photography functions before and after cinema. If the essays take early cinema as their starting point, they inevitably place this new medium in relation to a larger ensemble of interconnected media, conventions, and practices. In fact, the chapters emphasize four different but overlapping aspects of these intermedial migrations: image form, material, networks, and discourses.
As images migrate, what do they take with them? This group of essays emphasizes the common figures, conventions, tropes, and design strategies of intermedial images. Jennifer Peterson’s essay thinks about these common features as topoi , or repeated formulas, which helps us to see the migration of images not as simple and direct replication, but as the implementation of a shorthand that inevitably requires transformative adjustments, even if slightly, in the application to a new situation or medium. In this section’s first essay, “La part picturale du tableau-style ” (all French-language chapters are translated into English in the appendix), Valentine Robert highlights a little-known but fully fledged intermedial network through a meticulous study of the various reproductions (by lithography, photography, or photogravure) of Jean-Léon Gérôme’s painting Un Duel après le bal (1857–1858), of its many stage re-enactments in tableau vivant, and of its cinematic reinterpretation by Pathé in 1909. Robert thereby demonstrates how cinema was truly the heir of the tableau vivant by underscoring the explicitly pictorial aspect of the tableau style in film. Similarly, Daniel Wiegand, in “The Unsettling of Vision: Tableaux Vivants , Early Cinema, and Optical Illusions,” demonstrates the debt early film owed to the tableau vivant, especially in presenting audiences unaccustomed to film’s visual field with familiar tropes and devices. The essay focuses on the dimensional nature of visual illusion in early films featuring tableaux vivants. Analyzing examples from around 1900, the essay traces how these films presented spectators with ambiguous, multistable imagery that played with an illusion of depth within a two-dimensional image. The spectatorial activity, and unsettling pleasure, involved in watching these illusions both fit with other forms of optical tricks of the era and also helped establish an attentive gaze particular to early film audiences confronted with the spatial ambiguity of the moving image. Frank Gray also takes account of traveling tropes in “The Vision Scene: Revelation and Remediation,” which analyzes the longstanding intermedial motif of depicting visions pictorially within the mise-en-scène of painting, photography, lantern slides, and film. To show their adaptation in film practice at the turn of the century, the essay focuses on nineteenth-century vision scenes that depict psychological as well as supernatural states—as in the opening dream tableau of The Life of the American Fireman (1903). Through this trajectory, Gray tracks the ways in which visionary imaging provided media artists with a means to externalize interior experience, a method that would prove vital for the development of narrative cinema’s psychological complexity.
Emphasizing bodily form as it travels through time and media, Laura Horak’s “Animating Antiquity” looks at turn-of-the-century body culture and focuses on the widespread interest in recovering the physical training methods of ancient Greece depicted in Greek literature and artwork. By emulating the still poses found particularly in ancient statues and bas-relief, educators and dancers such as Diana Watts and Isadora Duncan looked to antiquity to recover idealized modes of movement that would help train a stronger, more healthy citizenry beset by the otherwise degenerative effects of urban life and labor. In historicizing this tradition of body culture, Horak’s essay provides vital context for thinking through the parallel interests in stillness and movement found in the chronophotography and early film of the time. Likewise, Jérémy Houillère finds points of comparison between printed illustrations in the popular press and early comic films. His essay, “Caricature et films comiques à la Belle Époque: quand le dessin de presse rencontre le cinema,” proposes that many early French comic films drew on techniques developed by caricature in the press. Houillère describes three different kinds of interaction between these two visual worlds: the composition of the image, the figuration of the characters, and what the author describes as the “ mise en dessin ,” or “putting into drawing,” of the cinematic image. He notes a clear connection between the two media, one that goes beyond the mere circulation of techniques—a connection that includes caricature especially.
On the other hand, Rodolphe Gahéry finds that our usual assumptions about the relationship between newspapers and early film may not obtain. In his article, “De la presse illustrée à l’actualité filmée (1894–1910): l’émergence d’une nouvelle « culture visuelle de l’information »?”, Gahéry shines new light on the nature of the interactions between fixed images of current events in the printed press and filmed actualities of the same events. Gahéry shows that, contrary to received opinion, the first informational moving pictures were not mere adaptations of what had already been printed in newspapers. Gahéry proposes that the roots of the earliest informative films lay not in educational or pedagogical systems of representation, as was the case with still images of current events, but rather in live entertainment, in particular the theater. Yet newspapers continue to be in other ways an important source for research on early cinema. Richard Abel’s essay, “From Pathé to Paramount: Visual Design in Movie Advertising to 1915,” focuses on the formal features in newspaper advertising design. Specifically, it surveys design changes in movie advertising in newspapers during the early period. As the film industry realized the power of newspapers to attract audiences, they adopted various advertising strategies as well as different design solutions in an era when loquacious, ornate ads often gave way to more minimalist, modern approaches. Abel shows that the struggle between image and word, so central to early cinema, played out on the battlefield of the newspaper ad in subtle and intriguing ways.
The next two chapters focus on common tropes or formulae in the depiction of landscape especially as a subset of this interest in form and topoi. Jennifer Lynn Peterson’s “Landscape Topoi: From the Mountains to the Sea” suggests that in dealing with early films of natural landscapes we can isolate a number of recurring topoi. Many of these recurring landscape topoi existed in visual media before cinema. Peterson sees topoi as different from repeated depictions of famous sites, such as Niagara Falls and Yosemite. A key example would be the rough seas so frequently filmed by early filmmakers, which she traces over more than a decade, and stresses its role as “a momentary spectacle of nature’s power to amaze and astonish.” These repeated depictions and topoi trained audience expectations of the travelogue and illustrated lectures, as Gunnar Iversen demonstrates in “A View Aesthetic without a View? Space and Place in Early Norwegian Polar Expedition Films.” This essay discusses how early Norwegian films of the Antarctic expedition by South Pole explorer Roald Amundsen offer views of this exotic locale without being able to offer the picturesque images usually associated with the early travel films. While the images of Amundsen’s expedition lacked visual specificity—showing little beyond blank, white horizons—nonetheless their status as views of a historic expedition drew audiences. Furthermore, the lack of familiar picturesque qualities of this landscape could be experienced as part of this alien landscape’s uniqueness, offering, as Iversen puts it, “a view without a view.” So the chapters in this section focus on repeated formulas that set up audience expectations and facilitate the migration of images and their formal conventions across media.
The chapters in this section emphasize the production of images. Production techniques, like images, migrate and adapt to new environments; there is a dynamic interrelationship between them in that the migration and adaptation subtly change both practice and environment, often because the material changes with the adaptation. A good example comes from Florian Hoof’s essay, “Between Recognition and Abstraction: Early Vocational Training Films.” Frank Gilbreth’s vocational films were a complex ensemble of media technologies and visualization practices, often drawing from disciplines such as management and mathematics. Consequently, Hoof argues that we must approach these films as something other than educational or simply nonfiction films. Moreover, the adaptation of these disparate technologies and practices to film prompted Gilbreth to adopt a dialectical relationship between concrete and abstract images. That is, Gilbreth’s primary challenge, according to Hoof, was translating the concrete, detailed filmic image into an abstract one that could be grasped by workers and management alike. Doing this required a theory and practice that negotiated the material difference between these kinds of images. Moving to another kind of production—special effects—Leslie DeLassus’s essay, “Ruptured Perspectives: The ‘View,’ Early Special Effects, and Film History,” makes a surprising comparison between early special-effects shots—such as the glass shot and the matte shot—and what has become known as the “view aesthetic,” which gives the effect of a space apart from the camera, as if the image is a window. Matte shots, for example, mimic the effect of the view by inscribing viewers in the image looking at the “view” of the matte. Drawing upon Norman O. Dawn’s archive of special effects material, DeLassus emphasizes the production of special effects in early cinema to complicate our understanding of genres and spectatorial relationships.
The next two chapters focus on stenciling practices and color production in early film. Jelena Rakin’s “Surface and Color: Stenciling in Applied Arts, Fashion Illustration, and Cinema” provides a technical and aesthetic account of film stenciling in France. Taking an intermedial approach, the essay examines the history of stenciling from the seventeenth century to its highpoint in the 1920s, as epitomized by Jean Saudé’s 1925 treatise on the method in the context of Art Nouveau and Art Deco applications. Having technical roots in both artisanal and industrial modes of production, the process was adapted to film in the early twentieth century; Rakin shows how the intermedial aesthetics of the process informed its application to film, particularly in the trick and fashion film genres of the silent era. Emphasizing the formal and interpretive consequences of specific production techniques, Joshua Yumibe’s “The Color Image” probes the way the processes of applied color in early cinema created specific registers of imagery through a close analysis of a fairly late example of the stenciled trick film, Gaston Velle’s 1910 Rêve d’art . Velle’s film deals with an artist and therefore self-consciously reflects on the making of images. As a late instance of Pathé’s stencil coloring, this film shows a change from earlier uses of applied color, showing less saturation and a more restrained palette. Color plays a key role in the film’s central dream sequence and trick effects but remains subordinate to a strong narrative line and an increased sense of naturalism. While brief, this section is key to any future research that hopes to connect image-making practices in various disciplines to commercial, educational, sponsored, and scientific filmmaking. The chapters in this section insist that these intermedial practices have aesthetic, ideological, and perhaps even social consequences.

As we have seen so far, images migrate along a variety of routes in visual culture. But what are the precise connections within these routes? How does the world of painting, for example, actually connect to the world of photography and the world of film? This section emphasizes the intermedial pathways that images and practices take in their migration from medium to medium. How did form and material get from here to there? Jörg Schweinitz’s “Shared Affinities and ‘Kunstwollen’: Stylistics of the Cinematic Image in the 1910s and Art Theory at the Turn of the Century in Germany” outlines one pathway especially clearly. The chapter suggests an aesthetic zeitgeist of sorts by finding a common fascination with problems of surface and depth shared by aesthetic theorists, early film theorists, and early film directors. By comparing Adolf Hildebrand’s and Hugo Münsterberg’s ideas about pictorial form with the pictorial strategies of 1910s German melodramas, Schweinitz brilliantly demonstrates how shared approaches and ideals to image-making and viewing in turn-of-the-century Europe pointed the way for early film style. But aesthetic approaches or routes were not simply one-way. Kaveh Askari’s “Techniques in Circulation: Sovereignty, Imaging Technology, and Art Education in Qajar Iran” examines early film in Iran through its intermedial relationship to painterly traditions of the time. The reception of photographic and motion picture technology in the royal court of Iran at the turn of the last century coincided with an ongoing transformation of academic painting and art education in the country. While this shift in painting has subsequently been read in art history as retrograde—in its embrace of a nineteenth-century pictorial aesthetic instead of toward an emerging twentieth-century interest in abstraction—Askari connects these changes in painterly styles to an intermedial modernism profoundly shaped by the influx of new photographic and cinematographic technologies of representation. According to Askari, then, the relationship between painting and these newer technologies in Iran was dialectical.
The next three chapters similarly underline the circulation of images across media and disciplines. Marina Dahlquist’s essay, “Corporeality and Female Modernity: Intermediality and Early Film Celebrities,” examines the relationship between a star’s “image” or persona and the actual images that circulate with the various promotional texts of fan culture. Using Pearl White and Annette Kellermann as examples, Dahlquist shows that the images in their autobiographies and in fan magazines worked to promote the stars as embodying a new ideal of femininity, at once strong and alluring—in short, exemplars of the New Woman. Ian Christie’s essay, “A Scientific Instrument? Animated Photography among Other New Imaging Techniques,” starts from an offhand and surprising mention by British film pioneer Robert Paul that he provided equipment and expertise to physicists at the turn of the century. Burrowing further, Christie uncovers the context for such a remark, from Paul’s own scientific training to the use of film in popular science lectures. Along the way, Christie deftly illustrates the importance of the circulation of scientific cinematic images for research, popularization, and entertainment. Gregory A. Waller, in his essay “Advertising with Moving Pictures: International Harvester’s The Romance of the Reaper (1910–1913),” examines this multiple-media, illustrated lecture as an example of the hybridity and heterogeneity of motion picture advertising during this period. Focusing on the various venues through which these hybrid slideshows/lectures/motion picture shows circulated, Waller traces their changing narrative and distribution strategies as the source of a surprising generic flexibility. The shows were so adaptable that they were shown in fairs, expositions, vaudeville houses, agriculture colleges, courthouses, retail stores, religious camps, museums, and more—testifying also to the importance of advertising for a history of visual culture and of the cinema.
The next two chapters stress the connection between serial photography, chronophotography, and motion pictures across the century. Dimitrios Latsis’ “The City View(ed): Muybridge’s Panoramas of San Francisco and Their Afterlives in Early Cinema” discusses Eadweard Muybridge’s 1877 and 1878 photographic panoramas of San Francisco and their echoes in early cinema, arguing that, in these “chrono-panoramas,” “Muybridge elaborated the technical and aesthetic stakes involved in the representation of movement in the photographic image.” Muybridge’s panoramas assembled a 360-degree view of the city from individual photos carefully fitted together. Latsis details the production, exhibition, and publication of these panoramas and the role that time and motion plays in them. The essay also traces their relationship to later motion picture panoramas of the city, both before and after the devastating 1906 earthquake. Jumping ahead to the late twentieth century, Charles Wolfe’s “California Landscapes: John Divola and the Cine-geography of Serial Photography” takes the unusual approach of relating the image in early cinema to contemporary serial photography, specifically John Divola’s work on southern Californian locations. Wolfe relates Divola’s serial photographs to such precinematic photographic series as Muybridge’s animal locomotion series. But the serial photographs of Divola also relate to early cinema topoi such as the chase and the use of receding vistas, as in films of Chaplin’s tramp, while Divolo’s use of abandoned dwellings evokes images from California slapstick by Keaton and Arbuckle.
As images move from one place to the next, context is everything, as demonstrated by Frank Kessler and Sabine Lenk’s essay, “What Is a Fake Image?” It raises the question of early films of actual events that were not in fact filmed records of the events they portrayed. The authors investigate three different cases: a 1904 Selig Polyscope film, Naval Battles between the Russian and Japanese Fleets at Port Arthur and Chemulpo , which reproduces an event with miniatures; Biograph’s 1896 McKinley at Home in Canton, Ohio , which was also exhibited as representing other events, such as the discussing of a peace treaty of the Spanish-American war; and finally a film of a Passion Play that was presented in New York City as representing the more famous Oberammergau production. “Fake” does not describe the nature of the film itself as much as the way it was exhibited, the authors conclude: “Images rather could become fakes, when staged or unrelated scenes were presented as actual records of a specific event.” Where and how a film was shown meant as much, if not more, than what it depicted. Artemis Willis similarly emphasizes the conditions of reception in her essay “The Lantern Image between Stage and Screen,” which asks that more attention be paid to the way lantern slide programs often presented adaptations of famous novel or plays, such as Ben Hur and Uncle Tom’s Cabin . To explore the nature of lantern slide presentation, she sets up two axes, first between the act of showing, in which slides display something, and the act of telling, in which slides form part of a narrative, and second, the spectrum from documentation to performance. The relationship between these four points can provide a means to describe different forms of lantern shows accenting the range of lantern performances and modes. These last two essays are more theoretical in their investigation of what takes an image along a particular route, but all the chapters in this section emphasize the importance of form and material as markers by which we recognize that an image has traveled at all. In other words, the historiographic task of tracing an image’s path along a network of linked media often depends on or starts with the recognition of a set of shared formal features, materials, or practices among the images in question.
Intermediality is discursive as well as practical. That is, the coexistence, superimposition, and overlap between media happen not just in spaces such as theaters, schools, and laboratories, but also in print. Indeed, what is written about images often prepares the way or documents the path of any given intermedial migration, as we see in the chapters in this section. For example, in “Pictorialism and the Picture: Art, Photography, and the ‘Doctrine of Taste’ in the Discourse on Transitional-Era Quality Films,” Tom Paulus discusses the adoption of aesthetic categories by film discourse during the transitional period. With the growth of trade journalism at the end of the first decade of the 1900s, writers turned to pictorialist and pastoral traditions to assess and promote new modes of film style that would help to integrate the emerging medium with reformist and uplift aesthetic traditions of the era. Analyzing a wide range of trade articles, Paulus delineates the variety of pictorialist landscape and fiction films gaining critical traction during the period. The rhetoric of fine art could only go so far to describe the cinematic experience, however. Ryan Pierson reexamines The Art of the Moving Image in “Boredom and Visions in Vachel Lindsay’s Film Theory.” Moving beyond arguments about Lindsay’s interest in the relation of film to fine art in the era of mass culture and production, the essay takes seriously the book’s claims about cinema’s ability to reinvigorate a modern sense of wonder. Confronted with the modern problem of boredom, or ennui , Lindsay saw in cinema a means of regenerating a productive sense of wonder in a secular age.
Looking at another kind of discourse—fiction—Denis Condon examines a short story in “Falling Desperately in Love with the Image on Screen: ‘The Flictoflicker Girl’ (1913) and Cinematic Structures of Fascination.” Condon uncovers the emergence of a critical discourse on spectatorship that emerged in the Irish labor press of the early 1910s. Analyzing a story published in the radical journal Irish Worker , Condon teases out its attentive, theoretical critique of the cinematic fascination with a heroine of an awestruck male spectator. Drawing connections to both the story’s contemporary labor context and later feminist film theory, the essay expands our genealogy of leftist critiques of distraction in the cinema.
Finally, we end with an examination of the discourse of the nontheatrical, specifically how early film was incorporated and discussed in the domain of advertising—and how this discussion paved the way for the nontheatrical in general. Martin L. Johnson, in “An ‘Advertising Punch’ in Every Frame: Image-Making in Early Advertising Films,” places early advertising films in the context of advertising trends in general at this time, answering why motion pictures appealed—or not—to the advertiser. Advertisers skeptical of the efficacy of advertising in movie theaters, especially as programs leaned more heavily on fictional entertainment, tended to prefer nontheatrical venues, where the moving image could be an effective complement to the illustrated lecture or sales pitch. Advertisers, therefore, helped to push motion pictures beyond the walls of the theatrical. The chapters in this section focus on the discursive preparation involved in image migration and appropriation: how the written word functioned to smooth the way and describe the importance of (cinematic) images for any given group, from advertisers to workers to aesthetes. This and the previous section perhaps steer us away from form and material, properly speaking, but they also supplement our explanatory tools for understanding images and their historical context.
Together these chapters provide snapshots of intermediality taken from multiple viewpoints and moments, collectively presenting a picture of image and media migration with greater clarity and depth than often found in early cinema studies. It is obvious from these cases that “intermediality” is not a state or a trend, but a description of activity that encompasses a broad range of endeavor. Indeed, it is this collection’s claim that understanding an image in early cinema necessarily implies taking this intermedial activity into account. In their quest to renew their own ventures, artists, entertainers, advertisers, educators, and scientists adopted, adapted, and transposed specific images, topoi, and practices, thereby creating pathways between media that others followed and deepened. Discussions of these activities in the relevant literature often justified (or condemned) the appropriation, while giving ideas to other practitioners to follow a similar path or strike a new one. So through a study of form, material, networks, and discourses we can come to a better understanding of the role of images in the exchange between media. At the same time, a study of these intermedial connections provides a more thorough understanding of what an image is —and how its very form and material depend on these exchanges. These chapters also show that an image transposed from one medium to another briefly shines a bit more brightly in its new setting as its previous incarnation fades from view. This collection reminds us that, as historians, we must illuminate each frame—forward and back—in this ongoing series if we are to understand the medial transformations that motion pictures have undergone and now face.
The organizers would like to gratefully acknowledge the support from the institutions and people who made this conference a success. At the University of Chicago: the David and Reba Logan Center for the Arts, the Film Studies Center, Julia Gibbs, James Lynn Rosenow, and Artemis Willis. At Northwestern University: the School of Communication, the Department of Radio/Television/Film, the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, the Department of Art History, the Block Museum and Block Cinema, Dan Bashara, Mimi Brody, Zachary Campbell, and Leigh Goldstein. We also thank Monty George for his design work, and Terry Borton, David Drazin, Terri Kapsalis, and especially Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi for their help in staging the evening events. The editors would also like to thank Timothy Barnard and Jeffrey Moore for their translations, and Raina Polivka and Janice Frisch of Indiana University Press for making the Domitor series possible and for shepherding this volume along.
S COTT C URTIS is Associate Professor in the Department of Radio/Television/Film at Northwestern University. He is author of The Shape of Spectatorship: Art, Science, and Early Cinema in Germany .
P HILIPPE G AUTHIER lectures in cinema and media at the University of Ottawa. He is author of Le montage alterné avant Griffith .
T OM G UNNING is Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. He is author of D. W. Griffith and the Origins of American Narrative Film: The Early Years at Biograph and The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity .

J OSHUA Y UMIBE is Associate Professor and Director of Film Studies at Michigan State University. He is author of Moving Color: Early Film, Mass Culture, Modernism and coauthor of Fantasia of Color in Early Cinema .
1. Scott Curtis (Northwestern University), Tom Gunning (University of Chicago), and Joshua Yumibe (Michigan State University) comprised the Domitor 2014 Program Committee.
2. On media archaeology, see Siegfried Zielinski, Deep Time of the Media: Toward an Archaeology of Hearing and Seeing by Technical Means (Cambridge, MA, London: MIT Press, 2006). On intermediality, see Hans Belting, Bild-Anthropologie: Entwürfe für eine Bildwissenschaft (München: W. Fink, 2001) or Belting, An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body , translated by Thomas Dunlap (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011). On image families, see W. J. T. Mitchell, Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986). On image systems, see Roland Barthes, Roland Barthes , translated by Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977). On an ecology of images, see Susan Sontag, On Photography (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1977).
3. Hans Belting, “Image, Medium, Body: A New Approach to Iconology,” Critical Inquiry 31, no. 2 (Winter 2005): 302–319, here 310.
4. Belting, “Image, Medium, Body,” 314.
1 La part picturale du tableau-style
Valentine Robert
L ’ESTHÉTIQUE DE L’IMAGE dans le cinéma des premiers temps s’est vue donner le nom de « tableau style », que l’on pourrait traduire littéralement par « style-tableau » et qui fut officialisé par la « bible » des chercheurs de Domitor, The Encyclopedia of early cinema 1 . La definition, détaillée par André Gaudreault, y décrit une esthétique « fondée sur l’unité d’action, d’espace et de temps, [et sur] une dynamique centripète du cadre » 2 . Si cette définition associe avant tout le tableau-style à la discontinuité du montage , dans A Companion to Early Cinema – que l’on pourrait appeler notre « Nouveau Testament » –, Rob King parle explicitement de « tableau style of framing » 3 . Et l’on a pu lire ailleurs, par exemple dans The British Cinematographer , « tableau style of staging » 4 . La notion qualifie donc le style visuel de l’image filmique originelle à tous niveaux (mise en scène, cadrage, montage). D’ailleurs, on trouve déjà la mention généralisée de « tableau style of filmmaking » 5 dans le premier livre de Domitor – notre « Genèse » ? Cette généralisation a passé par nombre d’autres de nos « textes sacrés », à commencer par les écrits fondateurs de la définition signés par Tom Gunning 6 , Noël Burch 7 et André Gaudreault 8 , que Richard Abel a synthétisés dans la formule « tableau style of autonomous shot-scenes » 9 . Elle connaît une sorte d’aboutissement avec le Silent Cinema Reader et sa locution globalisante de « tableau style of early films » 10 (mais cela ne me fera pas dire que le Silent Cinema Reader est un livre apocalyptique).
Si cette notion de tableau-style s’est imposée, c’est d’abord par sa validité historique, puisque ce terme français de « tableau » qu’on conserve intact en anglais, comme pour alléguer son caractère citationnel, était effectivement utilisé à l’époque pour décrire les premières images filmiques. « Dès le premier tableau , ‘Le repas de bébé’, toute la salle était conquise » 11 , dit l’un des premiers comptes-rendus du Cinématographe Lumière, qui n’a pas l’exclusivité terminologique: « Le Biographe est dès maintenant la grande attraction du jour. [. . .] Pendant vingt minutes, on assiste à une série de tableaux qui sont la vie même » 12 . Le terme s’applique même aux films qui ne sont pas projetés: « En introduisant dans une fente [du Kinétographe] une pièce de cinq cents, on voit aussitôt se développer toutes les phases d’un tableau animé » 13 . Bien sûr, « tableau » n’est pas le seul terme utilisé en français à l’époque – on parlait aussi de « vues animées », de « scènes », et déjà de « films ». Mais l’appellation « tableau » se systématise avec l’avènement des films en plusieurs plans, où le mot vient désigner chaque prise de vue, que les catalogues numérotent pour parler de films « en 5/10/12 tableaux » 14 . En anglais, cette locution sera communément traduite par « scenes » ou par « pictures », mais on trouve parfois le mot « tableaux » intact 15 , que ce soit chez les représentants anglophones de Pathé 16 , Gaumont 17 , ou Méliès 18 .
Provenant d’autres champs culturels, le terme « tableau » rattache l’image cinématographique à d’autres images, d’autres esthétiques. Le mot structure les pièces de théâtre 19 , et ne se limite pas aux images scéniques ; il en est de même de celles projetées, puisqu’on désigne également les plaques de lanterne magique sous le nom de « tableaux de projection » 20 ou « tableaux sur verre » 21 . Le terme s’utilise aussi dans l’édition de lithographies (« tableaux en noir ou en couleur » 22 ) et même pour les compositions presque vivantes des musées de cire 23 . « Tableau » s’utilise donc partout, il est comme le nom même de l’intermédialité. Et il est plus précisément le nom d’un pictorialisme . Car fondamentalement, le mot tableau, en français, veut dire peinture . La peinture encadrée et accrochée au mur. En réalité, si le mot s’utilise au théâtre, c’est parce qu’il règne un modèle pictural dans la dramaturgie, parce que depuis Diderot, on contemple une scène comme une toile peinte. D’ailleurs, les « tableaux » théâtraux les plus parfaits selon Diderot sont ce qu’on appelait des tableaux vivants . C’est-à-dire des moments de mise en scène où les acteurs ne se limitent pas à créer un effet pictural, mais imitent précisément une peinture célèbre, parfois même en tenant la pose plusieurs secondes, voire plusieurs minutes. Le phénomène a été théorisé par l’historien du théâtre Martin Meisel sous le nom de « realization »:
‘Realization’ [. . .] had a precise technical sense when applied to certain theatrical tableaux based on well-known pictures, [it] was in itself the most fascinating of ‘effects’ on the nineteenth-century stage, where it meant both literal re-creation and translation into a more real, that is more vivid, visual, physically present medium. 24
Or, ces realizations trouveront un terrain d’expérimentation privilégié au cinéma – où d’ailleurs, en français, on parle précisément de « réalisation » pour désigner la création d’images filmiques. Meisel lui-même avait parlé de cinéma, qui, fondé sur le paradoxe entre l’image fixe et animée, semblait à ses yeux l’héritier tout désigné du tableau vivant 25 . Mais l’état de la recherche en histoire du cinéma ne permit guère à Meisel de connaître d’autres tableaux vivants que ceux de Viridiana (Luis Buñuel, 1961) ou de MASH (Robert Altman, 1970), et il conclut que les citations picturales se concentraient dans ce cinéma pictorialiste postmoderne et n’étaient que « sporadiques dans les films antérieurs » 26 . Mais il n’en est rien, l’intuition de Meisel était juste. Le cinéma s’est réellement fait l’héritier du tableau vivant et a travaillé les realizations de manière non pas sporadique, mais primordiale.
Ce n’est pas un hasard, selon moi, si l’on parle de tableau-style pour désigner le cinéma des premiers temps. Le paradigme esthétique du tableau s’est concrètement réalisé dans des imitations picturales directes . Les chercheurs sont rares qui, comme Ian Christie 27 , ont su ébaucher ce corpus pourtant très étendu, qui traverse tous les genres, des films bibliques aux films érotiques en passant par les films comiques et historiques 28 . Ces tableaux vivants filmiques problématisent de manière déterminante la forme, la matérialité et l’intermédialité de l’image dans le cinéma des premiers temps. L’un des cas les plus emblématiques est tiré d’une peinture de Jean-Léon Gérôme, Un Duel après le bal ( fig. 1.1a ).
Il s’agit d’une scène de mort, qui pourrait paraître peu propice à une réanimation. Pourtant, en 1900, Pathé sort un film du même titre, Un Duel après le bal , dont l’enjeu est de réinscrire l’image fixe dans un mouvement gestuel et narratif. Le duel est d’abord reconstitué dans toute la vivacité de ses mouvements. Cela permet de vivre dans toute son intensité dramatique le moment où Pierrot est touché, et tombe dans les bras de ses témoins. Alors la composition picturale apparaît, les personnages se figent sous nos yeux et tiennent la pose plus de cinq secondes ( fig. 1.1b ) 29 . Le film semble s’arrêter. Mais le mouvement reprend et l’on assiste au déroulement dramatique de l’agonie et des lamentations, jusqu’à ce que Pierrot se soit définitivement écroulé à terre. Le film vient donc nous montrer l’avant et l’après du tableau, il redéploie la temporalité que la peinture de Gérôme condensait.
Le travail sur la temporalité est précisément l’une des caractéristiques majeures de la peinture de Gérôme. Au XIXe siècle, la temporalité de l’image artistique se définissait essentiellement par ce que Lessing avait nommé « l’instant prégnant »: c’est-à-dire un moment artistique idéal qui condensait l’action en en suggérant l’avant et l’après dans l’imagination du spectateur 30 . Dominique Païni a cependant postulé que Gérôme avait rompu avec cette tradition pour développer une esthétique de « l’instant d’après », défini comme « un instant quelconque qui succède à ce qui aurait pu être idéal , ou prégnant » 31 . C’est-à-dire une sorte d’instantané photographique (voire photogrammatique) pris juste après l’instant prégnant. Dans cette peinture, Gérôme semble proposer un entre-deux de ces concepts. Certes, nous sommes après le moment fatidique. Pierrot a déjà été touché, il se meurt, le vainqueur a eu le temps de se retourner et de s’éloigner. Pourtant, il se joue bien ici un instant prégnant. La suggestion émotionnelle culmine dans ce tragique face-à-face avec la mort déguisé en comédie. De plus, Gérôme nous permet d’imaginer très précisément tout le déroulement de l’action par un subtil jeu d’indices: les deux épées, les pas dans la neige, les plumes tombées du costume de l’adversaire, la blessure. . . C’est comme si nous pouvions voir le duel dans le vide ménagé au centre, qui est comme la matérialisation spatiale de l’ellipse temporelle 32 . Gérôme travaille ainsi une temporalité spécifique, qu’on pourrait appeler « l’instant prégnant d’après », en un paradoxe qui semble presque appeler la reconstitution cinématographique.

Fig. 1.1a Jean-Léon Gérôme, Duel après le bal , c.1857–1859—huile sur toile, 15.4 x 22.2 in., Baltimore, Walters Art Museum (réplique autographe du tableau de Chantilly de 1857).

Fig. 1.1b Le Duel après le bal (Pathé, 1900)—photogramme, avec l’aimable autorisation du Gosfilmofond de Russie (Fondation Nationale des archives de films).
Le film Pathé répond à cet appel en remettant les indices dans l’ordre. Il renchérit même par un ajout, puisqu’une femme qui n’était pas dans la peinture apparaît. Elle surgit du hors-champ, alors même que les deux adversaires de Pierrot sont en train de s’y engouffrer. Le film fait donc éclater le cadre de la peinture. Malgré leur pictorialisme et leur dynamique de tableau centripète, ces premiers films mettent déjà en place quelque chose de la tension théorique qu’a instituée André Bazin entre le cadre et le cache, c’est-à-dire entre un espace pictural clos, et un espace filmique ouvert sur un hors-champ 33 . Mais cette femme à la gestuelle frénétique ne brise pas seulement le cadre ; elle vient surtout rompre la pose et remettre le tableau en mouvement 34 , puisque ce film Pathé dramatise bel et bien un arrêt sur image . Le film fait voir et reconnaître l’image fixe. Il transgresse les lois du médium cinématographique pour matérialiser sa filiation picturale, qui est d’ailleurs proclamée dans le descriptif du catalogue:
Cette scène prise en temps de neige dans un décor naturel est la reproduction exacte du tableau de Gérome qui figure dans la galerie du château de Chantilly 35 .
Le film fait donc explicitement référence à la peinture originale en citant son auteur et en spécifiant même son lieu d’exposition. Il est toutefois peu probable que l’équipe Pathé ait jamais mis les pieds à Chantilly 36 . Le film ne s’inspire assurément pas directement de la toile originale: il est pris dans l’engrenage de ses reproductions. L’œuvre de Jean-Léon Gérôme est emblématique de «l’ère de la reproductibilité technique» de Walter Benjamin 37 . Il est l’un des peintres qui ont le mieux exploité le contexte commercial et industriel de l’art du XIXe siècle. Allié à Goupil, le plus grand marchand et éditeur d’art de son temps, Gérôme développe un style pictural basé sur la ligne et le réalisme presque photographique, qui permet à ses toiles d’être parfaitement reproductibles mécaniquement. Cela indignait au plus haut point Émile Zola:
M. Gérome travaille pour la maison Goupil, il fait un tableau pour que ce tableau soit reproduit par la photographie et la gravure et se vende à des milliers d’exemplaires. Ici, le sujet est tout, la peinture n’est rien: la reproduction vaut mieux que l’œuvre 38 .
Qu’on partage ou non le mépris de Zola, on doit constater que la stratégie industrielle de Gérôme – qui lui a valu l’étiquette précinématographique de « producteur-réalisateur d’images » 39 – paie. Un Duel après le bal connaît une reproduction par « cascades d’images » 40 , qui en font « l’un des tableaux les plus reproduits de son temps » 41 . Gérôme met en œuvre toutes les techniques (lithographie, eau-forte, photographie, photogravure), tous les formats (des planches à l’échelle aux cartes postales), toutes les nuances (noir-blanc, brun, pierre de teinte, coloris), et tous les prix (des reproductions les plus luxueuses recherchées par la haute société aux séries industrielles distribuées en masse). Pendant plus de 30 ans, les reproductions sont incessamment relancées et imprègnent durablement l’imaginaire collectif. Lorsque Martin Scorsese, dans The Age of Innocence (1993), fait entrer son héros dans le salon d’un connaisseur, sa caméra fait un détour ostensible pour afficher en gros plan la pièce incontournable: Un Duel après le bal .
Mais la répétition du tableau n’est pas le seul fait de la reproductibilité technique. L’historien d’art Stephen Bann a en effet prolongé les réflexions de Walter Benjamin en montrant que le XIXe siècle marqua l’avènement d’une « ère de la reproduction » au sens large, tant manuelle que mécanique 42 . Eik Kahng a même postulé que cette période vit l’émergence d’une véritable « esthétique de la répétition » 43 , où l’image était pensée dans la déclinaison, la transposition, l’appropriation. Un Duel après le bal en est exemplaire au point qu’il existe plusieurs originaux: Gérôme lui-même a recréé sa toile. Il a produit trois versions de taille différente 44 , qui varient la visibilité de l’arrière-plan et la silhouette de l’adversaire. Cette nouvelle conception du tableau donne tout son sens à la reprise de Pathé, qui s’en sert donc comme d’un tableau fait pour être reproduit, copié, adapté, et plus précisément « réalisé » en tableau vivant .
La composition avait fait l’objet de nombreuses réincarnations sur scène avant d’être réinterprétée à l’écran. Deux ans à peine après l’exposition du tableau au Salon, on annonçait à Paris la représentation du Duel de Pierrot de Bridault et Legrand, pièce mimique « d’un nouveau genre » 45 , « tirée du fameux tableau de Gérôme » 46 . Ce tableau vivant fait école. On le retrouve à la fin de pièces comme Fanfan la Tulipe 47 et il reste le clou de pièces dramatiques comme le Duel de Pierrot de Gustave Haller [alias George-Achille Fould] en 1881 48 . Il fait aussi l’objet de tableaux vivants autonomes comme celui qui émerveilla Madison Square Garden en 1893: « parfait dans [son] absolue quiétude », la reconstitution du Duel se distinguait de la série en produisant « un effet douloureusement réel et cependant profondément pictural » 49 . On retrouve également le tableau de Gérôme dans des pantomimes comiques 50 , acrobatiques 51 ou « à grand spectacle » 52 . Enfin, il est aussi joué dans les revues, par exemple dans Paris-Crinoline qui, moins d’un an après son exposition au Salon, présente sans doute le premier tableau vivant du Duel après le bal 53 . L’incomparable destin scénique de cette peinture de Gérôme a d’ailleurs été prédit d’emblée par Nadar, qui la caricature comme un « théâtre de guignol » 54 . Il devine dans la toile une sorte de tableau vivant prêt à l’emploi , fait pour être transposé dans un cadre scénique. Et la destinée de ce tableau vivant ne s’arrêtera pas au rideau, mais accèdera à l’écran.
Accéder à l’écran peut devenir un moyen de retrouver un encadrement pictural doré. Car à cette époque, les images projetées s’encadrent souvent 55 . Les premiers films ne prennent pas des tableaux que le nom, ils en prennent aussi le cadre – tant l’encadrement que les dorures, comme le rappelle l’affiche du Vitascope ( fig. 1.2a ). Charles Musser a même montré que ce cadre doré géant utilisé en 1896 autour des films Edison provenait précisément de la machinerie des tableaux vivants 56 . Cet usage d’encadrer l’écran, qui concrétise la définition de Tom Gunning du tableau cinématographique des premiers temps « mis en cadre plutôt qu’en récit » 57 , se popularise partout. Au point que lorsqu’il s’agira de penser la projection privée, le lieu qui s’imposera sera les murs du salon: on va projeter les films comme des peintures, à côté des autres tableaux, et dans les mêmes cadres ( fig. 1.2b ).

Fig. 1.2a Edison Vitascope Company, Affiche publicitaire des projections Vitascope, c.1896—imprimé par la Metropolitan Print Company (New York), conservée à la Library of Congress, (accès juin 2017.).

Fig. 1.2b Illustration du prospectus promotionnel The Cinerama. The Educational and Home Amusement (London: The Stress Company, s.d.), avec l’aimable autorisation de la Cinémathèque française, coll. Will Day.
Or, comme l’a amèrement constaté Zola, sur ces murs de salon, les peintures de Gérôme étaient omniprésentes:
Il n’y a pas de salon de province où ne soit pendue une gravure représentant Le Duel au sortir d’un bal masqué [. . .], dans les ménages de garçons, on rencontre Phryné devant le tribunal [. . .]. Les gens plus graves ont Les Gladiateurs ou La Mort de César 58 .
Et il s’avère que le Duel n’est pas la seule peinture de Gérôme à avoir fait l’objet d’une realization au sein du cinéma des premiers temps, au contraire. Il en est exactement pareil de Phryne devant l’Aréopage 59 , des gladiateurs de Pollice Verso 60 et de La Mort de César 61 . Chacun des tableaux de Gérôme cités par Zola s’est propagé des murs de salon aux écrans de cinéma. Chacune de ces peintures s’est vue devenir un « tableau » de cinéma, dans le sens pleinement pictural de cette désignation des premières images filmiques que j’espère avoir réactivé ici.
V ALENTINE R OBERT est Maître-assistante en Histoire et esthétique du cinéma à l’Université de Lausanne. Elle a codirigé Le film sur l’art, entre histoire de l’art et documentaire de creation et Corporeality in Early Cinema. Viscera, Skin, and Physical Form .
1. Richard Abel (dir.), Encyclopedia of Early Cinema (New York: Routledge, 2005), 209.
2. André Gaudreault, « Editing: tableau style », dans ibid., 210.
3. Rob King, « The Discourses of Art in Early Film, or, Why Not Rancière? », dans André Gaudreault, Nicolas Dulac et Santiago Hidalgo (dir.), A Companion to Early Cinema (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 158.
4. Duncan J. Petrie, The British Cinematographer (Londres: BFI, 1996), 8.
5. Expression de Peter Krämer dans Roland Cosandey, André Gaudreault et Tom Gunning (dir.), An Invention of the Devil? Religion and Early Cinema (Lausanne: Payot, 1992), 191.

6. « The tableau-style of single-shot scenes » est formulé par Tom Gunning, D. W. Griffith and the origins of American narrative film: the early years at Biograph (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991), 37ss. Mais les occurrences courent dès ses premières conférences et articles, notamment dans « ‘Primitive’ Cinema–A Frame Up? or The Trick’s on Us », Cinema Journal 28 (hiver 1989), 3–12.
7. Le « tableau primitif » est défini comme la première caractéristique du MRP dans Noel Burch, La Lucarne de l’infini: naissance du langage cinématographique (Paris: Nathan, 1991). Cette théorie prend ancrage dans des études préalables comme « Primitivism and the Avant-Gardes: A Dialectical Approach », dans Philip Rosen (dir.), Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology: A Film Theory Reader (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), 483–506.
8. La notion de « tableau » émerge dès les premiers articles d’André Gaudreault qui, dans Du littéraire au filmique: système du récit (Paris/Québec: Armand Colin/Nota Bene, 1999[1988]), 28, considère que « l’acquis le plus décisif de ces dix dernières années de recherche [sur le cinéma des premiers temps est] cette ‘découverte’ de tout premier ordre relative à la conception qui aurait prévalu eu égard au plan [fonctionnant] comme un tableau autonome et autosuffisant ».
9. Richard Abel, The Ciné goes to town: French Cinema 1896–1914 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 99.
10. Lee Grievson et Peter Krämer (dir.), The Silent Cinema Reader (Londres: Routledge, 2004), 188 (locution complète: « the tableau-style characteristic of films from earlier periods »). L’ouvrage compte plusieurs autres occurrences de « tableau style » (p. 57, p. 163, etc.) qui attestent de sa systématisation.
11. Le Stéphanois (Saint-Etienne, 27 avril 1896), 2, je souligne.
12. Le Figaro (Paris, 17 septembre 1897), 4, je souligne.
13. Frédéric Dillaye, Les Nouveautés photographiques. 3e Complément annuel à la Théorie, la Pratique et l’Art en Photographie (Paris: Librairie illustrée, 1895), 158, je souligne.
14. Voir le bilan de Karine Martinez, « La vue animée dans le discours journalistique », dans François Albera, Marta Braun et André Gaudreault (dir.), Stop Motion, Fragmentation of Time (Lausanne: Payot, 2002), 309–20.
15. Santiago Hidalgo a commenté la manière dont les premiers textes anglais sur le cinéma étaient bancals dans leur traduction de la terminologie française, « in the process creating a kind of ‘third language’ of mistranslated terms » (« Awareness of Film, Language, and Self in Early American Film Publications », dans A Companion to Early Cinema , op. cit., 210–11).
16. Aucun systématisme ne préside à ces choix de traduction qui divergent au sein d’un même catalogue, parfois sur une même page, à l’instar du Catalogue Pathé (New York, 1905), 133.
17. Winter in Switzerland (Gaumont, 1905) est ainsi présenté comme « a complete exhibition in nine remarkable tableaux » ( The Elge Monthly List 66 [avril-mai 1905], 9).
18. Voir Jacques Malthète, « Détail de l’analyse des termes désignant le film chez Méliès », dans Jacques Malthète et Michel Marie (dir.), Méliès, l’illusionniste fin-de-siècle (Paris: Presses de la Sorbonne nouvelle, 1997), 37–42.
19. Cet héritage théâtral a été étudié par Ben Brewster et Lea Jacobs, Theatre to Cinema. Stage Pictorialism and the Early Feature Film (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).
20. L’Abbé Moigno, l’Art des projections (Paris: Bureau du Journal Les Mondes, 1872), 91.
21. Catalogue des tableaux sur verre pour l’enseignement par les projections A.Molteni (Paris, s.d.).

22. Catalogue de l’imagerie de la Maison de la Bonne Presse (Paris, 1907), 7.
23. Le Catalogue illustré du Musée Grévin (Paris, 1891) est emblématique de cette terminologie.
24. Martin Meisel, Realizations: Narrative, Pictorial, and Theatrical Arts in Nineteenth-Century England (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), 30.
25. Ibid., 51.
26. Ibid., 91.
27. Ian Christie, « Painting and the Visual Arts », dans Encyclopedia of early cinema , op. cit., 493–497.
28. Voir ma thèse de doctorat L’origine picturale du cinéma. Le tableau vivant, une esthétique du film des premiers temps (2016, Université de Lausanne, dir. François Albera).
29. Je remercie pour leur aide dans la localisation de cette copie Peter Bagrov, Natalia Jakovleva, Valérie Pozner, Ivo Blom et Yuri Tsivian.
30. (Notion aussi traduite par « instant fécond ») Lessing, Laocoon [1766], trad. Courtin [1866] (Paris: Hermann, 2002), 55–57.
31. Dominique Païni, « Peindre l’instant d’après ou Gérôme cinéaste », dans Laurence des Cars, Dominique de Font-Réaulx et Edouard Papet (dir.), Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904) L’Histoire en spectacle (Paris: Musée d’Orsay/Skira-Flammarion, 2010), 336.
32. Dominique de Fonts-Réaulx, « Cat. 51, Un Duel après le bal » dans ibid., 120.
33. André Bazin, « Peinture et cinéma », dans Qu’est-ce que le cinéma? vol.2, Le cinéma et les autres arts (Paris: Cerf, 1959), 128–9.
34. Cette figure vient aussi inscrire le tableau dans une temporalité narrative plus large en incarnant la cause du duel. Voir Yuri Tsivian, Immaterial bodies: a cultural analysis of early Russian films (Los Angeles: University of Southern California/Annenberg Center for Communication, 1999).
35. Catalogue Pathé (Paris, mars 1902), 8.
36. Le descriptif n’a d’ailleurs pas peur des raccourcis mensongers, puisqu’il n’est absolument pas tourné en décors naturels mais devant une toile peinte !
37. Walter Benjamin, « L’œuvre d’art à l’ère de la reproductibilité technique (première version, 1935-dernière version, 1939) », dans Œuvres III , trad. Rainer Rochlitz (Paris: Gallimard, 2000), 67–113/269–316.
38. Emile Zola, « Nos peintres au Champ de Mars [1867] », dans Ecrits sur l’art (Paris: Gallimard, 1991), 184.
39. Dominique Païni, op. cit., 333. Sur cette vision précinématographique de l’œuvre de Gérôme, voir Laurent Guido et Valentine Robert, « Jean-Léon Gérôme: un peintre d’histoire présumé ‘cinéaste’ », 1895 Revue d’histoire du cinéma 63 (printemps 2011), 8–23.
40. Régine Bigorne, « A Publishing Policy », dans Gérôme & Goupil: Art and Entreprise (Paris: RMN, 2000), 88.
41. Dominique de Fonts-Réaulx, op. cit., 120.
42. Stephen Bann, Parallel Lines: Printmakers, Painters and Photographers in Nineteenth-Century France (New Haven/Londres: Yale University Press, 2001), 16.
43. Eik Kahng, « Repetition as Symbolic form », dans Eik Kahng (dir.), The Repeating Image: Multiples in French Painting from David to Matisse (Baltimore/New Haven/Londres: Walters Art Museum/Yale University Press, 2007), 13.
44. La première est à Chantilly (50x72cm), la deuxième au Musée de l’Hermitage de Saint-Petersbourg (68x99cm), et la troisième au Walters Art Museum de Baltimore (39x56cm).

45. Le Ménestrel (Paris, 28 août 1859), 307.
46. Le Monde dramatique (Paris, 8 septembre 1859), 1.
47. Le Tintamarre (Paris, 6 novembre 1859), 5.
48. Cette pièce tourna avec grand succès jusqu’en 1888, mais fut vilipendée par la critique pour n’avoir « pas d’autre but » que de « reproduire en tableau vivant le chef d’œuvre de Gérôme ». L’Orchestre (Paris, 3 août 1881), 2.
49. The Sun (New York, 9 avril 1893), 6.
50. Le Figaro (14 mars 1889), 3.
51. Les acrobates Hanlon-Lee expliquent que la pantomime qu’ils performent jusque devant le grand-duc de Russie leur a été directement inspirée par « le fameux tableau de Gérôme ». Le Figaro (20 octobre 1879), 1.
52. L’Orchestre (15 septembre 1894), 4.
53. Roger de Beauvoir, Paris-Crinoline: revue en trois tableaux (Paris: Michel Lévy Frères, 1858), 5.
54. Nadar, Nadar jury au Salon de 1857: 1000 comptes rendus, 150 dessins (Paris: Librairie nouvelle, 1857), 9.
55. Voir Judith R. Buchanan, « Un cinéma impur : framing film in the early film industry », in Steven Allen and Laura Hubner, eds., Framing Film: Cinema and the Visual Arts (Bristol: Intellect, 2012), 239–260.
56. Charles Musser, « A Cornucopia of Images: Comparison and Judgement across Theater, Film and the Visual Arts during the Late Nineteenth Century », dans Nancy Mowll Matthews et Charles Musser (dir.), Moving Pictures: American Art and Early Film, 1880–1910 (Manchester: Hudson Hills Press, 2005), 8.
57. Tom Gunning, « ‘Primitive’ Cinema – A Frame Up ? », op. cit., 10.
58. Emile Zola, op. cit., 184.
59. Le Jugement de Phryné (Pathé, 1897) consiste entièrement en une realization de cette toile de 1861.
60. Les reprises multiples de cette peinture de 1872 culminent dans le film Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Voir Ivo Blom, « Quo vadis? From Painting to Cinema and Everything in Between », dans Leonardo Quaresima et Laura Vichi (dir.), The Tenth Muse: Cinema and Other Arts (Udine: Forum, 2001), 281–92.
61. Le tableau vivant de cette peinture de 1867 dans Julius Ceasar (J. Stuart Blackton et William V. Ranous, 1908) a été analysé par Roberta E. Pearson et William Uricchio, Reframing Culture: the case of Vitagraph quality films (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 87–95.
2 The Unsettling of Vision: Tableaux Vivants, Early Cinema, and Optical Illusions
Daniel Wiegand
T HE EMERGENCE of film at the end of the nineteenth century enabled a visual experience that, for many observers, was characterized by a certain unsettledness, an ambiguity between the images’ actual flatness and the impression of volume and depth they created. While this tension had certainly existed within earlier forms of image-making, the projection of luminous and moving photographic images defined it in a new and radical way, introducing what Antonia Lant has described as a “novel spatiality” into visual culture. As she puts it, film proved to be “an utterly flat medium of presentation, insubstantial, without texture or material, and yet evoking, in a wafer, a fuller illusion of the physicality and exactness of human beings than any prior art.” 1
While Lant relates this general quality of film images to the contemporary discourse on “haptical” perception, this chapter will focus on films that self-consciously presented optical illusions and highly ambiguous images—often images within the film image, such as paintings or posters—hovering between volume and flatness. As I will demonstrate, visual ambiguity in these films became an attraction in itself while triggering scenarios of visual deception. Furthermore, I will argue that many of these playful explorations of visual uncertainty explicitly referred to and made use of the stage practice of tableaux vivants . As will become apparent, these imitations of artworks by live actors were not only situated within the context of high art and classical aesthetics but also firmly embedded within popular culture and, more specifically, within a tradition of ambiguous images that chiefly strove to entertain.
Visual Experiments at Biograph
The Model , a film produced by the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company in 1897, shows an artist at work in his studio. The surviving three frames from the Biograph Photo Catalog ( fig. 2.1 ) and the description from the Biograph Picture Catalog suggest that there is no further plot development. 2 The live model, clad in a white leotard signifying nudity, and the almost finished painting are set up next to each other, facing the camera frontally, thereby provoking spectators to let their eyes wander between the two. It is as if the “intellectually active processes of comparison and judgment” that Charles Musser attributes to early film spectators with regard to their prowess in intermedial culture, 3 were addressed here by one cinematic shot, provoking a mode of reception that art historian Victor I. Stoichita refers to as the “inquiring eye,” a wandering gaze that eagerly absorbs the various “images within images” presented. 4 Even if The Model with its rather sparse mise-en-scène is a far cry from the painted cabinets of curiosity analyzed by Stoichita, it still encourages spectators to explore and enjoy the various similarities and differences between the two figures. It is remarkable in this respect that despite some obvious deviations (most noticeably the size), there is a strong alignment between the two, with the figure in the painting standing out in stark relief against the background in a way similar to the real figure while both of them are part of the same plane surface of the film image. The artist seems to serve as a stand-in for the film spectators and their “inquiring eyes,” moving from one figure to the other, scrutinizing them from various distances, perhaps checking on how close the painting has come to the original.

Fig. 2.1 Frames from The Model (Biograph 1897, left ) and His Masterpiece (Biograph 1899, right ) as printed in the Biograph Photo Catalog, Vol. 1, No. 1–499 (retrieved from ) and Vol. 3, No. 1002–1502 (retrieved from ).
It is revealing to compare this film to His Masterpiece , another Biograph production apparently shot two years later, which has a very similar setting and even uses the same small painting as a prop ( fig. 2.1 ). Again the painting is positioned immediately next to a real posing model, and again it seems that the filmmakers deliberately made the two figures look alike, thereby creating slight ambiguities—the surviving film print even reveals painted shadows on the model’s leotard. However, roles have been somewhat reversed. As opposed to the former film, the actress does not play a real model but the figure in another painting. It is as if the visual ambiguities only implicit in The Model had now been turned into a genuine optical illusion: a live actress only pretending to be a flat painting. Similar to some of the trick films by Georges Méliès from about the same period, the ambiguity inherent in the “false” painting, while still being presented to film spectators as a visual attraction, is transferred to the diegetic world of the film by becoming the nucleus of a rudimentary plot: when the figure in the painting begins to move and slightly turns her head, the painter is, for a short while, unsure whether or not he can trust his senses (until he eventually decides for the former and embraces the figure). So while the shift from The Model to His Masterpiece can certainly be understood in terms of early cinema’s penchant for remakes, it goes beyond a mere variation of an established pattern. The differences rather affect the basic structure of the film and almost bring about a change in genre. Even if no cinematic tricks—like the stop trick for instance—are used, His Masterpiece ’s emphasis on illusion, animation, and sudden transformation reveals its kinship with the trick film, emerging in just these years.

Tableaux Vivants: Illusion-as-Attraction
There are several links between films like The Model and His Masterpiece and the stage practice of tableaux vivants or “living pictures,” as they were commonly referred to at the time. 5 The actresses in these films with their characteristic leotards, standing still and posing as (or for) a painting, could easily be identified by contemporary spectators as tableaux vivant models even without any explicit reference in the film title (which was given in other cases such as A Living Picture Model Posing before a Mirror , Biograph 1897). Tableaux vivants were imitations of paintings or sculptures staged by living but motionless models, originally shown privately in aristocratic and high-bourgeois drawing rooms but later increasingly exhibited in public venues such as variety theatres, vaudeville houses, and music halls around the world, culminating in the enormous popularity of tableaux vivants in the years around 1900. 6 Some of these acts, like those by German entrepreneur Henry de Vry, staged large paintings with up to thirty performers, making use of painted backdrops, stage machinery, and elaborate lighting effects. Smaller ensembles of three to four, like the 3 Olympier , usually posed as groups of sculptures, sometimes combining tableaux vivants with acrobatic acts or dance. Single performers, mostly either beautiful women or strongmen—and often in the nude—were also very popular. 7 Within the context of bourgeois entertainment culture, tableaux vivants were frequently used to present the larger variety theatres, with their patrons from higher social strata, as places of art and refinement. 8 At the same time, however, they were astonishing attractions that addressed spectators’ visual curiosity and adhered to the logic of the spectacle. With their display of nude bodies, performers capable of perfect physical standstill, and spectacular decor and lighting effects as well as the latest stage machinery, tableaux vivants around 1900 were not some odd leftover from nineteenth-century drawing room culture but an up-to-date stage attraction, firmly embedded within the international culture of display.
Part of tableaux vivants’ attraction lay in their astonishing resemblance to real artworks and in their potential to play on visual perception. Advertisements and reports in the variety theater trade press frequently claimed that audiences were temporarily enticed to believe they were looking at real artworks rather than living beings. One advertisement for the famous tableaux vivants trio The Seldoms maintained that “you don’t think you see living people but masterpieces created by the greatest sculptors.” 9 The illusory effect seems to have been even more spectacular when trained animals like dogs and horses were involved, as is indicated by an advertisement claiming that “the horse Loky is standing in a pose of such complete standstill that every spectator must be in doubt if he sees a living horse or one carved from stone.” 10 As with other media of illusion, anecdotes of deception were spread in the trade press, often making fun of gullible and less-educated spectators, as in a report on a show of tableaux vivants on a British music hall stage, “Two Germans were standing next to me. . . . One of them (he looked a bit dumb) just couldn’t believe that the ‘marble sculptures’ were not made of marble. It took some time for his friend to convince him that they were really girls.” 11
These anecdotes did not only involve the lower educated but also those who were considered to be the authorities in the field of aesthetics. As one advertisement claimed, even famous sculptor Reinhold Begas “didn’t believe that these were living people until they moved,” 12 and fellow artist Wilhelm Krumm was quoted affirming that “if he didn’t know that they were real, even an artist could be deceived thanks to the lighting effects and watching from some distance.” 13
It may of course be doubted if many spectators were truly deceived by the posing figures, but as these sources indicate, tableaux vivants were at least presented and advertised as shows of optical illusions. This was surely done to underline the artistic value of the shows (“so artistic that you even take them for real sculptures”), but the comments in the trade press also reveal what Tom Gunning calls the “the entertaining pleasure of uncertainty and ambiguity,” a typically modern pleasure based on the very knowledge that one’s senses are fooled. 14 While tableaux vivants can therefore certainly be linked to other turn-of-the-century shows of illusions (such as stage magic), they produced their own specific temporality. Spectators were probably not so much left in doubt if what they saw was possible as they were supposed to switch between one way of seeing (“image”) and another (“living people”), either as a sudden revelation that they had been deceived (indicated by some of the sources), as a skeptical gaze weighing the options, or as some kind of a playful dialog with the tableaux vivants, consciously switching back and forth between the two ways of seeing.
In that sense, the temporal structure inherent in the perception of tableaux vivants bears a certain resemblance to conceptions of so-called aesthetic illusion as discussed in art theory at the time by theoreticians like Konrad Lange in Germany. Lange in his book Das Wesen der Kunst [The Nature of Art] construes illusion as the basic mental process involved in the perception of artworks, describing it as a “pendular movement,” a continuous “transposition going on in the consciousness of the viewer, when the perceived material object [e.g., a painting] is exchanged with its content.” 15 Lange, a professor of aesthetics at the University of Tübingen (and later a fervent opponent of the notion of film as art) had practical experience with staging tableaux vivants, citing them as prime examples of so-called inverted illusion: while paintings are flat and give the impression of three-dimensionality, tableaux vivants, on the contrary, are formed by groups of solid bodies but are supposed to give the impression of a plane surface. 16 To optimize this effect, various strategies had indeed been developed throughout the nineteenth century: the arrangement of the actors in a large picture frame; the arrangement of the audience in a delimited area to avoid extreme angles that would destroy the illusion; specific kinds of lighting; and sometimes even a veil hung before the stage, reducing the figures’ appearance of three-dimensionality. 17
Despite the fact that tableaux vivants could be cited to illustrate concepts in academic art theory, the discourse surrounding their presentation in amusement venues such as vaudeville theatres seems in many cases far removed from conceptions of aesthetic illusion as fostered by Lange and others. Whereas these theorists strove to construct an autonomous perceiving subject capable of aesthetic judgment, the cited sources from the trade press rather reveal an enjoyment in the unsettling of vision and even in the possibility of genuine deception. In that respect, tableaux vivants should rather be situated within a tradition of ambiguous images from the realm of popular culture, such as the numerous picture puzzles, multistable images, and hidden images, which abound in illustrated magazines at the end of the nineteenth century. One example would be the famous “duck-rabbit” from 1892, which can be seen as either a duck or a rabbit (but never as both simultaneously) and which was later cited by Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein to elucidate his concept of Aspektwechsel , the sudden and surprising switch from one way of seeing to another, accompanied by a “cry of recognition”, “A rabbit! etc.” 18
Tableaux Vivants in Film
Wittgenstein’s “cry of recognition” marks the illusion in ambiguous images like the duck-rabbit or tableaux vivants as the seed of surprise and enjoyment in sudden revelations. Early cinema continued this tradition in genres such as the trick film, the féerie , and the comedy, and it did so in many cases by incorporating staging practices of tableaux vivants from the variety theatre. For instance, each shot in the Gaumont dance film Porcelaines tendres (Emile Cohl, 1909) shows a completely static tableau vivant in which the actors pose as porcelain figurines for at least ten seconds before they eventually start to dance. The film’s advertisement in Moving Picture World puts emphasis on this aspect of illusion-as-attraction, “A Gaumont in which mysticism is developed. A number of pieces of beautiful Sèvres porcelain are shown in series, and in each instance the pieces of ware are in reality composed of living people. When the pieces disintegrate into the original models who pose in various dances and drills the surprise of the audience is marked.” 19
While Porcelaines tendres exhibits living bodies posing as three-dimensional figures, many early films played with the double nature of the tableau vivant oscillating between flatness and volume. French trick films and féeries by Georges Méliès (e.g., Le portrait mystérieux , 1899; La Fée Carabosse , 1903), Gaston Velle (e.g., La valise de Barnum , 1904; La garde fantôme , 1905) and Segundo de Chomón (e.g., Hallucination musicale , 1906) show various examples of convincingly ambiguous images for which it is indeed difficult to say (at least for some time) whether they are posed by live actors or if they are only flat images. As we saw before, the Biograph Company, being in constant exchange with New York’s vaudeville houses, used tableaux vivants from early on to create visual ambiguities. In fact, the company produced and distributed whole a series of “living picture” films between 1900 and 1903, showing similarly clothed models posing as famous paintings in a picture frame ( fig. 2.2 ). In these films, the models do not move at all (the only moving element are two pages, opening and closing the curtain), making it in some cases almost impossible to tell whether they are real or not.

Fig. 2.2 The first tableau vivant from Living Pictures . “By the sea” and “The Tempest” (Biograph, 1900), later rereleased and copyrighted in the compilation Living Pictures (1903). Courtesy Library of Congress.
In all these films, the illusion-as-attraction clearly solicits the film spectators, with the ambiguous images being frontally arranged toward the camera in direct address, but in some cases, they also involve diegetic characters. In Kiss Me (Biograph, 1904), we see a fake billboard with several posters advertising burlesque shows. One of the figures is a real woman standing in a space cut out from the wall ( fig. 2.3 ). 20 The dark background, of the same color as her dress, is reminiscent of certain trompe-l’œil paintings—usually derided or ignored by official art theory around 1900—which often utilized dark backgrounds to underline the effect of the figure reaching out of or even leaving the picture frame, such as in the famous Escaping Criticism (1874) by Pere Borrell del Caso. While this never happens in Kiss Me , the dark background still gives relief to the figure and suggests the possibility of a three-dimensional, living body. Even more so, the poster toys with the idea of a ripped-off surface, which is mirrored in the jagged outlines on the adjacent poster on the left. As the film proceeds, an old man and his wife enter the frame, with the husband obviously getting interested in the female figure as she pouts her lips and beckons him over, just until the old lady prevents him from taking further steps. It is impossible to recount what is actually happening here: is the old man hallucinating? Is the poster really coming alive? Is it really a person standing in a nook, trying to irritate passers-by? Attempts to pin down the film on any of these explanations seem futile because it is apparently less aimed at telling a coherent story than at exhibiting an ambiguous image-as-attraction and channeling this ambiguity towards a diegetic character, who accordingly becomes the butt of the joke.

Fig. 2.3 Kiss me (Biograph 1904). Courtesy Library of Congress.

The scenarios of deception enacted in these films—their playful, unruly, and often ironic tone, and last but not least their toying with erotic and voyeuristic concerns—set them apart from debates surrounding notions of aesthetic illusion in art theory, illuminating that they were rather indebted to a tradition of popular images in which the sudden discovery that visual objects may be different from what they seem and that one’s own senses (and those of others) are fallible became a source of pleasure, amusement, and laughter. In ways similar to tableaux vivants and other forms of multistable images, these films addressed a scrutinizing, maybe even suspicious gaze that enjoyed exploring visual paradoxes and shifts in perception. It is important to notice, however, that in doing so, early films did not only harken back to already existing forms of optical illusion but tested out their own capacity to create images lingering in uncertainty—who knows, maybe the flirting model will not only leave the billboard but the cinema screen as well.
D ANIEL W IEGAND is a postdoctoral researcher at Stockholm University. He is author of Gebannte Bewegung: Tableaux vivants und früher Film in der Kultur der Moderne , and editor with Jörg Schweinitz of Film Bild Kunst: Visuelle Ästhetik im vorklassischen Stummfilm .
1. Antonia Lant, “Haptical Cinema,” October 74 (Fall 1995), 45.
2. Biograph Photo Catalog Vol. 1, (1898–1905); Biograph Picture Catalog (1902), 14.
3. Charles Musser, “A Cornucopia of Images,” in Moving Pictures: American Art and Early Film 1880–1910 , ed. Nancy Mowll Mathews and Charles Musser (Manchester/Vermont: Hudson Hills, 2005), 160. See also Musser, “A Cinema of Contemplation, A Cinema of Discernment: Spectatorship, Intertextuality and Attractions in the 1890s,” The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded , ed. Wanda Strauven (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2006), 159–179.
4. Victor I. Stoichita, The Self-Aware Image: An Insight Into Early Modern Meta-Painting (Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 146.
5. For a discussion of the relationship between tableaux vivants, early cinema, and the motif of the animated painting or sculpture, see chapter 2 in Lynda Nead, The Haunted Gallery: Painting, Photography, Film c. 1900 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2007), 45–104. For the general use of tableaux vivants and living sculptures in early cinema see Vito Adriaensens and Steven Jacobs, “The Sculptor’s Dream: Tableaux Vivants and Living Statues in the Films of Méliès and Saturn,” Early Popular Visual Culture 13, no. 1 (2015): 41–65; and Daniel Wiegand, Gebannte Bewegung: Tableaux vivants und früher Film in der Kultur der Moderne (Marburg: Schüren, 2016).
6. My research in the German variety theatre trade press has revealed over one hundred international acts active between 1890 and 1914.

7. The imitation of sculptures was sometimes referred to as poses plastiques as opposed to tableaux vivants, the imitation of paintings.
8. See Daniel Wiegand, “Früher Film, Tableaux vivants und die ‘Attraktion des Schönen’: Archäologie eines diskursiven, bildgestalterischen und rezeptionsästhetischen Phänomens,” Film Bild Kunst: Visuelle Ästhetik im vorklassischen Stummfilm , ed. Jörg Schweinitz, Daniel Wiegand (Marburg: Schüren, 2015).
9. Advertisement, Das Programm 109 (1904).
10. Quoted from Joseph Garncarz, Maßlose Unterhaltung: Zur Etablierung des Films in Deutschland 1896–1914 (Frankfurt am Main: Stroemfeld, 2010), 25.
11. “Londoner Brief: The Living Pictures,” Der Artist 481 (1894).
12. Quoted from: Wolfgang Jansen, Das Varieté: Am Beispiel der Berliner Entwicklung (PhD thesis: Freie Universität Berlin, 1989), 358.
13. “Aus dem Künstlerleben,” Der Artist 1025 (1904).
14. Tom Gunning, “Phantasmagoria and the Manufacturing of Illusion and Wonder: Towards a Cultural Optics of the Cinematic Apparatus,” The Cinema, a New Technology for the 20th Century , ed. André Gaudreault, Catherine Russell and Pierre Véronneau (Lausanne: Éditions Payot, 2004), 40. See also Gunning’s “An aesthetic of Astonishment: Early Film and the (In)Credulous Spectator,” Viewing Positions, Ways of Seeing Film , ed. Linda Williams (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers, 1995), 114–133, especially 116–119.
15. Konrad Lange, Das Wesen der Kunst: Grundzüge einer illusionistischen Kunstlehre , 2nd ed. (Berlin: G. Grote, 1907), 74, 257.
16. Ibid., 507.
17. See Birgit Jooss, Lebende Bilder: Körperliche Nachahmungen von Kunstwerken in der Goethezeit (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1999), 164–172.
18. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations , ed. P. M. S. Hacker and Joachim Schulte, 4th ed. (Chichester/Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009) 208e; and Wittgenstein, Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology, Volume 1, Preliminary Studies for Part 2 of Philosophical Investigations , ed. Georg Henrik von Wright and Heikki Nyman, (Chicago/Oxford: Chicago University Press/Blackwell, 1982), 63e.
19. Moving Picture World 5, no. 11 (1909): 347.
20. The name Rose Sydell written underneath the poster refers to a famous burlesque star known, among other things, for her tableaux vivants. Biograph had already explored the idea of the living poster in three films from 1899: The Poster Girls, The Poster Girls and the Hypnotist , and A Midnight Fantasy . In these films, the models pose in front of poster backgrounds instead of standing in a nook.
3 The Vision Scene: Revelation and Remediation
Frank Gray
T HE VISION SCENE is a particular visual trope that has had a long presence within the histories of Western visual art, photography, theater, and film. It was employed visually and narratively to represent either a character’s thoughts and feelings or her/his encounters with the divine and the supernatural. The depicted vision could be of many things—memories, dreams, nightmares, anxieties, or desires. Usually the visionary and her/his vision were composed within the same picture plane (or scene), with the vision presented either as an integrated element of the main image/scene or as a separate yet contiguous second image/scene (a picture-within-a-picture). The presence of the vision scene, therefore, created a symbiotic relationship between itself and the main image. The two images (or scenes) were conjoined, copresent, and codependent, and as such, they together represented a hybrid image that existed because of this relationship and this combination of elements. Here might be, simultaneously, the dreamer and the dreamed, the conscious and the unconscious, and the natural and the supernatural.
This chapter is dedicated to understanding the multiple uses and manifestations of the vision scene in the nineteenth century and its emergence into film practice in the early twentieth century. It was particularly prominent in this period, as it was found across a considerable range of two-dimensional media (paintings, watercolors, prints, photographs, book illustrations, stereographs, and postcards) as well as in the narrative-based and temporally driven practices of theatre, opera, the magic lantern, and film. The dream, in particular, is the subject that dominates a great deal of this visual imagery.
The late eighteenth century witnessed a fascination with visions and their depiction through the media of painting, print, watercolor, and the phantasmagoria. Romantic artists such as Blake, Fuseli, and Goya and their apparitions are central to this history. The visions in this period were not only inspired by canonical literature but also drawn from the artists’ own imagination. Jacob’s dream from the Old Testament is a good example of the former. It provided the impetus for William Blake’s Jacob’s Dream , a watercolor of about 1799–1806. 1 Jacob lies asleep in the foreground and above him arises the spiral ladder that unifies the earth with heaven. For Jacob, this dream vision was proof of the existence of the spiritual realm; here was the ladder to heaven and to God. (Gustave Doré’s wood engraving of the same scene would feature within his collection of illustrations for the English Bible in 1868.) By contrast, Henry Fuseli’s iconic painting The Nightmare (1782) is overtly secular, sexual, and demonic in nature. He fashioned a terrifying dream that marries a sleeping young woman with an incubus on her chest and a wild-eyed peering horse. 2 Equally famous is The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters , Francisco Goya’s aquatint from 1797–99. Its commentary states, “Imagination abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the source of their wonders.” 3 All three examples bring together the dreamer and the dreamed into a single unified composition, and they offered a compositional framework in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries for the representation of the dream, most notably within two subjects—the Soldier’s Dream and the Artist’s Dream. It is within these two dream tropes that the formal device of the picture-within-a-picture (the double image) would become very prominent.
The Soldier’s Dream has an intermedial history that encompasses painting, engraving, ceramics, and film. Often this double image was placed within the context of accompanying prose, poetry, music, and song. J. M. W. Turner’s watercolor, The Soldier’s Dream , about 1835, is one of earliest examples. It was executed as part of his creation of a series of twenty vignettes for the anthology, The Poetical Works of Thomas Campbell (1837), which included Campbell’s poem The Soldier’s Dream of 1804. The poem had been written during the British involvement in the Napoleonic wars. Turner’s watercolour presents a soldier on duty at nighttime and below him his vision—a scene of home and family bathed in sunlight. 4 Subsequent appearances of the Soldier’s Dream would offer variations on the same composition and resonate with contemporary military conflicts. For example, the woodcut The Soldier’s Dream was published in the weekly British periodical Punch in 1854. Set at the very start of the Crimean War, the sleeping soldier dreams of two contrasting events: his service on the front line and the penury faced by soldiers’ families at home. 5 A year later, Edward Goodall created The Soldier’s Dream of Home (1855), a mezzotint based upon a design by his son Frederick and also inspired by Campbell’s poem. Out of the smoke from the night fire, the dream image of home hovers above the sleeping soldier. 6 It is highly likely that this Soldier’s Dream, both as a print and as a hand-painted lantern slide, influenced the creation of American versions that circulated throughout the American Civil War, such as Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives’ lithograph, The Soldier’s Dream of Home (ca. 1861–1865). 7
Edouard Detaille’s painting, The Dream (1888) brought a new sense of monumentality and national purpose to the Soldier’s Dream. This vast work (300 cm × 400 cm) depicts French soldiers sleeping and their dream of rising up against Germany and restoring honor to the nation after the defeat of 1870–1871. Its political capital was established through its purchase by the French state, its exhibition at the Musée du Luxembourg and its subsequent long circulation as a print and as a postcard. 8 More generally, postcards from the 1890s to the First World War would also exploit the subject of the Soldier’s Dream as would the variant—a soldier’s family and its dream of their loved one serving in the armed forces. The increasing popularity and familiarity of the Soldier’s Dream no doubt influenced the production of Robert Paul’s two-scene film, His Mother’s Portrait; or, The Soldier’s Vision (1900). A wounded British soldier during the Anglo-Boer War dreams of his “mother at home praying for her son,” and his vision of her appears above him in the sky. 9 He is rescued and it is discovered that the metal-cased portrait of his mother that he takes from her on his departure from England for South Africa (scene 1) has saved his life. Paul, in this instance, inserted the vision into a defined film narrative and, by doing so, used the new medium of film to provide a structured dramatic context for the dream vision’s use. The Soldier’s Dream presents a very particular social and military iconography, where the vision worked to serve the narratives of nation, war, patriotism, and family.
Akin to the Soldier’s Dream is the Artist’s Dream. Various iterations of it are found throughout the nineteenth century and like the Soldier’s Dream, the double image of the dreamer and the dreamed (the picture with a picture) is very prominent. Three early Victorian painters played a significant role in the establishment of this trope. Charles Eastlake’s The Artist’s Dream (1845) features a sleeping artist imagining being awarded a prize by the Queen. Edward Henry Corbould’s The Artist’s Dream (ca. 1853) presents an artist asleep in front of his easel and a dream image of his visual world, uniting elements of the natural and the supernatural. John Anster Fitzgerald’s The Artist’s Dream (1857) is very similar. Its composition is effectively divided in two. On the right-hand side, in focus, is the artist asleep in his chair. On the left, in soft focus, is his ethereal dream of himself painting a model while elves and goblins encircle him. 10 In 1893, the magician David Devant devised in a most spectacular fashion a stage interpretation of this trope for London’s Egyptian Hall. Entitled The Artist’s Dream , this dramatized magic act introduced the artist mourning the loss of his late wife as he sits next to his full-length portrait of her. While he sleeps, his dream is revealed to the audience when his wife materializes out of the painting and onto the stage, where she offers him consoling words. 11 A version of Devant’s illusion was presented in New York in the next year by the magician Professor Hermann. Charles Musser has identified it as an important source for An Artist’s Dream / The Artist’s Dream , the seventy-five-foot, single-shot film made for the Edison Company in early 1900. The film represents a very early instance of the Artist’s Dream on film. As the artist sleeps, the Devil orchestrates a set of fantastic and frenzied actions made possible on film by stop motion. The Artist’s Dilemma (1900) by J. Stuart Blackton and Albert E. Smith for Edison is similar in both nature and form. 12 What is important to mark is that Devant and the filmmakers were introducing a vision scene into a temporal, narrative space. As such, they were both reimagining and animating the Artist’s Dream .
In his study of the relationship between nineteenth-century theater and early cinema, Nicholas Vardac drew attention to the vision scene, or vision effect as he called it, as a significant part of the spectacle of the Victorian stage, emphasizing its use in the work of Boucicault, Irving, and within pantomime. Vardac described the vision scene as, “the popular method for depicting the internal state of a character.” 13 The ubiquity of the vision scene suggests that theater audiences were familiar with this trope and its function. Charles Kean’s London production of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII in 1855 is an intriguing example. It created the moment of Queen Catherine’s death and the arrival of angels possibly either through the use of Pepper’s Ghost (a mirror below stage and angled glass on stage) or the projection of lantern slides, or conceivably a mixture of the two. It was resonant with earlier interpretations of the very same supernatural scene in paint (Fuseli) and watercolor (Blake). 14 Probably the most enduring vision scene for the British stage was the one created by the actor-manager Henry Irving for his own play, The Bells . Performed continuously for over 30 years (from 1871 to 1905), the scene appeared at the end of Act 1 and was captured in an engraving from December 1871. 15 Mathias in the present, on stage in the foreground downstage left, remembers his past: the moment he murdered and robbed Koveski, the Polish Jew. This memory is visualized and dramatized on stage by being presented as a separate site of action behind Mathias. The audience was therefore confronted, simultaneously, with Mathias’ present and his past. This embedded vision scene represented an externalization of his suppressed memory. The migration of the vision scene across the nineteenth century from its use within the two-dimensional imagery of paintings and prints to its employment within the multidimensional spaces of the stage and the screen was motivated very clearly by a recognition of its dramatic value, a desire to reconfigure it within a narrative structure and to reimagine it through the uses of stagecraft, stage magic, and the newly invented special effects for film (stop motion).
As intimated above, vision imagery also has a defined place within the histories of photography and photography-related media: the magic lantern, the stereograph, and the postcard. These histories are significant because they all combined not only to spread an awareness of the vision scene as a formal device among photographers but also, through its many applications, to further establish its public currency. The photographic vision usually consisted of a main image to which other elements were added through superimposition in order to create a new, formally unified and enigmatic whole. It was these superimposed elements that could also alter and make strange the main image. This multiple-image work was usually created either through the combination of properly exposed and underexposed elements onto the same negative in-camera or through the creation of a composite image by the combination of two or more negatives onto the same positive plate/paper. Composite photography, what we would now refer to as photomontage, became very well established within Victorian photography. It was through an understanding of this practice that vision scenes were incorporated into photography.
Henry Peach Robinson, a British photographer, was an important advocate of composite photography. He was instrumental in cultivating its importance and employing his term for the concept: combination printing. His public lectures, articles, many publications beginning with Pictorial Effect in Photography (1869), and the exhibition of his own photographs all contributed to the development and professionalization of photographic culture in Britain. Robinson believed that photography could aspire to become a new art form through the combination of elements and that this should become an essential part of the photomechanical image-making process. It was for him, “a method which enables the photographer to represent objects in different planes in proper focus, to keep the true atmospheric and linear relation of varying distances, and by which a picture can be divided into separate portions for execution, the parts to be afterwards printed together on one paper.” 16 Fading Away (1859), with its marriage of five separate negatives, exemplified his refined approach and demonstrated, for Robinson, composite photography’s value and potential. From his purist perspective, he was also concerned about the misuse of composite photography. He said, “It is true that combination printing, allowing, as it does much greater liberty to the photographer, and much greater facilities for representing the truth of nature, also admits, from these very facts, of a wide latitude for abuse.” 17 The wide-spread adoption of composite photography or combination printing of course nurtured the very “abuse” that Robinson feared, especially through the advent of trick photography, spirit photography, and photographically created vision scenes.
The magic lantern, as a technology and as a cultural practice, became an important site both for the use and display of combination printing and, through it, the realization of vision scenes. For example, the English company Bamforth produced a range of commercial, photographic lantern slide sets in the late nineteenth century dedicated to the use of this trope. As in photography, the magic lantern vision was created through the use of superimposition in the creation of a composite single slide. In addition, the lanternist, by using either multiple lanterns or a lantern with multiple lenses, could also create a layered image made up of different slides that would combine on screen. This live vision mixing enabled angels, for example, to appear and disappear within the context of a vision slide sequence. Three examples from Bamforth identify this English company’s characteristic use of the vision scene. In Catterina: A Pathetic Story (1893), an old man tells children stories from the New Testament, and as he speaks, illustrations of these wonders appear within the composition on the door to his right and dissolve in and out of view. In this case, the image of the speaker and listeners formed a master image that remained constant on the screen while the biblical illustrations were superimposed sequentially onto a section of this master image. The result was to imagine that the set of second images were the ones the children imagined as they listened to the stories. In Daddy (1896), a father and his daughter sit within an interior and mourn the loss of his wife and her mother. In a composite slide, the departed relative appears as an angel above them. Come Back to Erin (1902) depicts a young man sitting by a fireside remembering his loved one and hoping that she returns to him in Erin/Ireland. His thought is made tangible by a slide that combines this same scene with an image of his beloved hovering above him. 18 These uses of the vision scene by lanternists were also utilized by early filmmakers.
George Albert Smith, the English magic lanternist and filmmaker, is a key figure in relation to the introduction of the vision scene into film. Vision scenes played an integral role in four films that Smith made in 1898: Santa Claus, Cinderella, Faust and Mephistopheles , and The Corsican Brothers . These one-minute, silent film versions of established stories concentrated on those key “vision” moments within the original source texts that were the most magical in nature. In Smith’s films, the vision scene was the product of double printing and, with the visual evidence from the surviving two films Santa Claus and Cinderella , it is revealed as an inset second image within a circular mask that was positioned in the upper right-hand side of the frame. In each film, the vision appeared momentarily on a dark ground within the main image, actions took place within it, and then it disappeared.
Santa Claus had its origins in the poem Twas the Night before Christmas (1822) and had become a popular subject within illustrated children’s books. The use of the vision in Santa Claus involves two children asleep in their bedroom on Christmas Eve. It was described as a “dream-vision . . . showing Santa Claus on the housetops in the snow.” As such, it functioned both as the children’s dream image (their desire) as well as a cross-cut to the parallel action on the roof of their home ( fig. 3.1 ). In Cinderella —a multimedia text with a history spanning fairy tales, illustrated children’s books, and stage pantomimes—the Fairy Godmother visits Cinderella and reveals to her, “on the wall a beautiful vision of the Prince dancing a minuet with her at the Palace.” Smith’s vision in Faust and Mephistopheles operated in a similar fashion. Mephistopheles presents to Faust what he desires: a “charming moving vision of Marguerite at spinning-wheel in the garden.” This scene was derived directly from Act 1 of Gounod’s opera Faust , which was first performed in Paris in 1859 and then in London in 1863 ( fig. 3.2 ). The vision in The Corsican Brothers was inspired by Henry Irving’s production of the play (first performed 1880), and it operates within the film’s main image as a form of crosscutting, for it presents the death of one twin brother to the other at the moment it occurs. 19

Fig. 3.1 The vision scene in G. A. Smith’s Santa Claus , 1898. Courtesy of BFI National Archive.
Smith’s uses of the vision scene reveals that for him, it did not have a single function. In Cinderella and Faust and Mephistopheles , the vision is the creation of a supernatural agency that conjures up an image of desire for the respective protagonists. In The Corsican Brothers , it is the supernatural bond between the twin brothers that enables one, through the vision, to see the fate of the other. As in Santa Claus , this was also crosscutting in filmic terms—enabling the viewer to see two actions that are occurring simultaneously in different physical spaces. The vision in Santa Claus , as mentioned, also operates as a dream image. These multiple uses of the vision scene by Smith demonstrates his understanding of its different manifestations within a range of media, the utility of combination printing as found in photography and the magic lantern, the creative and technical challenge a vision scene posed in terms of its use within film and its value as a popular commercial attraction.

Fig. 3.2 The vision scene in Gounod’s Faust (c. 1870). Courtesy of Screen Archive South East.
The technical changes that enabled filmmakers to make longer films sparked a new style of filmmaking, and this had an immediate impact on the uses of vision scenes. James Williamson’s film The Little Match Seller (1902), drawn from the short tale The Little Match Girl (1845) by Hans Christian Anderson, is a good example of this change. It runs just over three minutes and is a work of sustained complexity. It is composed of not one but a set of visions that are integrated into the main scene. It is the story of the last moments of a young girl’s life on a snowy New Year’s Eve as she dies of malnutrition and hypothermia. Through the act of lighting a set of matches, Anderson described how each, “blazed up, and where the light fell upon the wall, it became transparent like gauze, and she could see right through it into the room.” 20 It is this room within her imagination where the little girl sees her desires, her memories, and her hope to be rescued from her terrible plight. With her last match extinguished, she dies and a winged angel appears and carries her soul up and out of the frame toward heaven. The Little Match Seller is a significant early composite film because of its use of an integrated sequence of five superimpositions (the product of double printing) and a continuous snow-falling effect. The subjective point of view of the dying child is the film’s purpose—for the viewer to simultaneously see what she sees. An important companion to this work is Robert Paul’s Scrooge, or, Marley’s Ghost (1901). Like the Williamson film, it was an adaptation of a well-established literary work (namely Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol of 1843). It is structured around three visions, each one being within a narrative sequence devoted to a different moment in Scrooge’s life. This use of the vision scene to signify specific memories and feelings would also be utilized in films such as Life of American Fireman (Edwin Porter, 1903), The Old Chorister (James Williamson, 1904), and Fireside Reminiscences (Edwin Porter, 1908). For example, in Porter’s Life of the American Fireman , the very first shot of the film features a fireman asleep in a chair, and his thoughts are revealed in a self-contained circular vignette to the right to him. This vision, or “dream bubble,” depicts a mother and her child, and it can connote both his love for his own family and their welfare, as well as all of the loved ones whose lives can be threatened by a domestic fire. Unlike Smith’s vision films of 1898, these films by Williamson, Paul, and Porter offer good examples of the formal move toward longer, less compressed, causally driven narratives. It is this change that saw the vision scene begin to move from being the sole focus of attention in a film to being repositioned as an integrated element within a narrative structure.
This synoptic history of the vision scene as laid out here can be summarized as artists finding intriguing and often complicated solutions to the challenges posed by visualizing and narrativizing thoughts, feelings, and uncanny encounters. From painting to print to stage to photography and to projected slides and films, this migration signifies an enduring fascination with the use of visions within specific media as well as their remediation across media. Through superimposition and juxtaposition, it was used within very particular pictorial and dramaturgical methodologies that enabled a viewer to see simultaneously the external and the internal worlds: to see a subject as well as her/his dreams. As a concept and as a practice, the vision scene would continue to motivate artists in the twentieth century, especially within surrealism and its multiple styles and forms of expression.
F RANK G RAY is Director of Screen Archive South East at the University of Brighton. He is coeditor, along with Kaveh Askari, Scott Curtis, Louis Pelletier, Tami Williams, and Joshua Yumibe, of Performing New Media, 1890–1915 .
1. William Blake, Jacob’s Ladder , or Jacob’s Dream (c. 1799–1806), Tate Britain, London.
2. Henry Fuseli, The Nightmare (1782), Detroit Institute of Arts. Blake and Fuseli’s place within Romanticism and its representation of the dream are subjects within Martin Myrone, Christopher Frayling and Marina Warner, Gothic Nightmares: Fuseli, Blake and the Romantic Imagination (London: Tate, 2006).
3. Francisco Goya, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (1797–1798), plate 43 with commentary from Los Caprichos (New York: Dover, 1969) (unpaginated).
4. J. M. W. Turner, The Soldier’s Dream (c. 1835), Tate Britain, London.
5. The Soldier’s Dream, Punch (April 1, 1854): 131 (attributed to John Tenniel).
6. A hand-painted lantern slide of The Soldier’s Dream after the Goodall print is found in the collection of La Cinémathèque Française, Paris.
7. Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives, The Soldier’s Dream of Home (c. 1861–1865), Library of Congress, Washington.
8. Edouard Detaille, The Dream (1888), Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
9. See John Barnes, The Beginnings of the Cinema in England 1894–1901 , 5, 1900 (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1997), 9, 190–191.
10. Charles Eastlake’s The Artist’s Dream (1845), Cardiff City Hall; Edward Henry Corbould’s The Artist’s Dream (c. 1853), Bristol Museum & Art Gallery; John Anster Fitzgerald’s The Artist’s Dream (1857): illustrated within Jeremy Maas, et al., Victorian Fairy Painters (London: Merrell Holberton, 1997), 114–115.
11. The scenario for Devant’s The Artist’s Dream is found within David Devant, My Magic Life (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1931), 230–233. Lynda Nead provides a detailed intermedial study of The Artist’s Dream in The Haunted Gallery: Painting, Photography, and Film around 1900 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), 86–88.
12. Charles Musser, Edison Motion Pictures, 1890–1900 (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997), 583–584, 647.
13. Nicholas Vardac, Stage to Screen (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1949), 35.

14. Engraving of the vision scene from Kean’s production of Henry VIII , London, Illustrated London News (2 June 1855).
15. Engravings of the vision scene in The Bells ; David Mayer , Henry Irving and the Bells (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1980), 46–47.
16. H. P. Robinson, Pictorial Effect in Photography: being hints on Composition and Chiaroscuro for Photographers to which is added a chapter on Combination Printing , (London: Piper & Carter, 1869), 192. Mia Fineman explores the history of photographic manipulation in Faking It: Manipulated Photography before Photoshop (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012).
17. Ibid., 198.
18. These slide sets are found within Lucerna—the Magic Lantern Web Resource , .
19. Quotations from the catalogue descriptions found within John Barnes, Pioneers of the British Film, The Beginnings of the Cinema in England 1894–1901 , 3, 1898, (London: Bishopsgate Press, 1983), 191–192.
20. “The Little Match Girl,” Fairy Tales from Hans Christian Andersen (London: J. M. Dent & Co., 1906), 142.
4 Animating Antiquity
Laura Horak
I N THE DECADES leading up the turn of the twentieth century, many in the West worried that the health of their national populations was degenerating owing to the adverse effects of city living and factory work, alcoholism, sexually transmitted diseases, unhealthy clothing trends, and racial mixing. Various solutions were proposed, but one of the most popular and long lasting was the rise of “physical culture.” According to the physical culture movement, exercising held the potential to create healthy citizens, productive workers, vigorous soldiers, and, thus, a revitalized nation. But which exercises? Which kinds of motions would strengthen and energize the body and which kinds would drain and injure it? As film historian Marta Braun has shown, Georges Demenÿ—Étienne-Jules Marey’s assistant—used his mentor’s innovative chronophotographic methods to analyze the movements of soldiers, gymnasts, Olympic athletes, and ordinary citizens in order to recommend exercise regimens to French schools and the military. 1 Similarly, American efficiency experts Frank and Lillian Gilbreth used long-exposure photographs to analyze workers’ movements so that they could train workers to move more efficiently, which should both increase production and decrease fatigue. 2
However, film scholars’ focus on the role of technology in the quest to perfect human movement has obscured another important approach of the time—the turn toward antiquity. To figure out how humans should use their bodies to be as healthy as possible, many experts turned to the physical culture of the ancient Greeks, as transmitted via surviving writings and works of art. Ancient Greek sculptures and bas-reliefs depicted the human form at the height of health and vitality, and thus, as the reasoning went, Greek exercises and dance movements could be the key to achieving this level of vitality. Perhaps the most famous example of this line of thought is Pierre de Coubertin’s successful revival of the Olympic games in 1896. While much technologically driven motion analysis was led by and also focused on the bodies of men , Greek-inspired physical training was often led by and directed toward women. Two leaders of the latter approach were the British physical culturist Diana Watts (1867–1968) and the American dancer Isadora Duncan (1877–1927). The male French composer Maurice Emmanuel (1862–1938) also looked to the Greeks as a guide for contemporary dancers, and many of the bodies modeling the movements he described were female.
While I have so far opposed the technology-inspired efforts led by men with the Greek-inspired efforts led by women and men alike, in fact, these two movements did intertwine at times. Chronophotographers like Marey sometimes described their technological achievements as a way back to the ancient Greek way of seeing. When Marey presented three-dimensional representations of his chronophotographs of a horse and a man running to the Académie des Sciences (in 1878 and 1888, respectively), he observed, writes Braun, that “only the ancient Greeks came close to ‘seeing’ motion correctly and to incorporating that vision into their art. Photography, he showed, now enabled us to return to that original true vision.” 3 Conversely, physical culturists like Watts and Emmanuel turned to chronophotography to prove that certain ways of moving did, in fact, correspond to Greek movement. (Duncan, however, remained skeptical of film and chronophotography.) This article will show how Greek-inspired physical culturists engaged with—and sometimes opposed—chronophotography in their efforts to perfect human movement. By bringing their voices back into scholarly discussions of chronophotography, we will discover not only the agency of women in this field but also how modes of perceiving and representing that seem to be radically new were also connected to traditions that were very old. 4
Europe and North America had long looked to ancient Greece as the paragon of intellectual, artistic, and physical achievement. The way ancient Greeks trained and used their bodies seemed to promise vitality and strength, harmony with the natural world, and even virtues such as democracy, grace, truth, and beauty. 5 Many at the turn of the century sought to recover a “natural” body that had been lost through Christian renunciation, Victorian prudery, and the shocks, mechanization, and clothing fads of modernity. As film and dance scholar Mary Simonson’s study of Greek pageants in American women’s colleges has persuasively shown, ancient Greece functioned as “an imagined space through which

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