About The Book
The Complete Edition
Publish Date: 31st October, 2019
Tableaux depicting life in hell, better known as Diableries, were all the rage in nineteenth century France but over the years the stereo images made after those clay tableaux were scattered and their hidden meaning lost. When first published in 2013, this book featured all but two of the 184 scenes in the series. Remarkably, the two lost remaining views have now been found! This 2018 Complete Edition features the full compliment, to be enjoyed just as their creators intended in magnificent 3-D.
Uncover the stories behind the Diableries and follow their journey through the underworld using the full size OWL stereoscopic viewer, neatly housed in a storage envelope and inserted alongside the book in a protective slipcase.
Pages: 280 featuring 500 photographs
Size [mm]: 325 x 240
Publication date: 31st October 2019
In France, around 1860, from the loins of a traditional national fascination with all things diabolical, was born a new sensation – a series of visionary dioramas depicting life in a strange parallel universe called ENFER – Hell – communicated to an eager audience by means of stereoscopic cards, to be viewed in the stereoscopes which had already become popular in the 1850s. This 3-D phenomenon, which fascinated a nation for 40 years, is yours to share.
This book, the fruit of half a lifetime’s study by three impassioned authors, brings every single one of the published Diableries into the 21st Century for the very first time. Some of them are so rare that at the time of writing there is no known full collection of the originals of these masterpieces.
In the first edition of this book, published in 2013, there were two stereo cards missing from the Diableries series! In 2018, after a worldwide search, finally the last card was found, and is published for the very first time in this new edition of Diableries, along with the story of its discovery.
The final dimension in this unique study is the original research, which unearths the hidden meanings in these tableaux. Never before have these secrets been revealed – clues to the conflicts in France in a period of great unrest, suffering, shame and suppression – a period which, even in French schools is seldom part of the curriculum. The Diableries are impudent, funny, sad, riotously inventive, satirical and dangerously seditious. Their wickedness awaits you.
Mail on Sunday’s “Fantasy” book of the year.
“The monster hardback tome collects together a series of diableries (‘devilments’) – photographs of ghoulish ‘stereo’ cards featuring devils, skeletons and satyrs, originally printed in France in the 1860s. These stereo cards are best viewed in 3D. As a consequence, May, who has held a lifelong passion for stereoscopic imagery, has set about designing his own 3D viewer – a pair of plastic spectacles known as the OWL – a pair are given away with the book” – Esquire
“Colourful and infernally detailed three-dimensional images that provide fascinating insight into the imagination of the past…The black-clad volume is alive with tableaux that range from the grotesque to the ghoulish, from the cruelly satirical to the plainly insane. Every picture tells several stories.”– Daily Telegraph
“Gothic Victorian underworld of temptation, seduction, retribution and devilish fun brought alive in colour and 3D” – Amateur Photographer
“Full of stunning pictures of 19th century studies in devilment.” – Huffington Post
The Original Edition
Publish Date: 10th October, 2013
Brian May is one of the world’s foremost collectors of Victorian stereo cards. He published his first book about these cards in 2009. A Village Lost and Found contained a complete series of stereo cards taken in a small Oxfordshire village, and was a huge success and the subject of a great deal of media attention.
In this second book, the subject is of broader interest and is more controversial. Diableries (which translates roughly as ‘Devilments’) presents an extraordinary set of French stereo cards, which were published beginning in the 1860s, and continuing on until around 1900. They depict a whole imaginary underworld, populated by devils, satyrs and skeletons which are very much alive and, for the most part, having fun. The cards are works of art in themselves, and are known as French tissues, constructed in a special way to enable them to be viewed (in a stereoscope – which is supplied with the book) illuminated from the front, for a normal ‘day’ appearance in monochrome, or illuminated from the back, the view becomes a ‘night’ scene, in which hidden colours magically appear.
The scenes depicted in these Diableries were made in clay, on a table-top, with amazing skill, by a small bunch of gifted sculptors, and then photographed with a stereo camera. The resulting stereo pair of prints was made on thin albumen paper, and water-colours were applied to the back of the prints. The eyes of each skeleton were then pricked out with a sharp instrument, and small pieces of red gel, or blobs of reddened varnish, were applied to the back of the pricked holes. Behind this pair of prints was added a layer of tissue paper, which hid the ‘works’ to the rear surface of the view. The print and the backing tissue were then mounted together, sandwiched between two cardboard frames – each with twin cut-out ‘windows’ for the prints, and the whole was glued together to make a French Tissue stereo card and the eyes of the skeletons leap out in red, in a most macabre way! Collectors prize these cards, which are quite delicate, and must be handled with care, in order not to damage them.
In addition to the beautiful images of the complete set of over 70 stereo cards which can be seen in 3D using the viewer provided, Brian and his fellow authors and researchers Denis Pellerin and Paula Fleming provide an explanatory text for every card to unravel its meaning – the satirical nature of the cards is hidden to modern eyes.
Page Size: 235mm x 310mm
Extent: 280 pages
Illustrations: 500 photographs all in full colour
Text: approx. 70,000 words
Slip-case: with 3D lenticular applied, including OWL stereo viewer in envelope
Publish Date: 10th October, 2013
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