|*New information 4/2008*
|Watercolor Painting of a Camera Obscura – Translation of German Text
We posted this 3" X 5 1/4" watercolor painting and the handwritten text on the back several months ago. We were not even sure of the language although we thought it was German with a few words of English. An enlarged scan of the card back was included with an appeal for help. The wonder of the internet has brought us a translation that changes almost everything we thought we knew. We are exceedingly thankful for the transcription/translation which is courtesy of Dr. Gregory Hahn, Essen, Germany.
The design of the camera obscura in the watercolor is so specific that we had some hope of finding the location. The translation puts that hope in doubt since it appears to be from an architect to a client and talks about a proposed design which the client might change. If the design was changed or the camera obscura was never built then we will not be able to link it to an existing camera obscura building. That said, the text is even more intriguing to us because it discusses concerns being considered before a camera obscura is built.
Dr. Hahn tells us that the writing is in the 19th century German "Kurrent" script. On the left below is a transcription of the German and on the right a translation into English.
Transcription of German "Kurrent" script:
diese Scizze bei, um Dir
Translation into English:
I am including this sketch in order
to better illustrate what I meant by the main secondary particulars.
an architectural style /other than this English American Chapel Style/
or than Swiss, Dutch etc., it would in the end cause pointless additional
costs. After all, the dimensions of the house depend upon the number
of people who will visit it for shows. Within the raised foundation,
of which is both to better anchor the structure and to hold back pushy
crowds, we could quite easily set up a small cellar for food, drink,
and, if needs be, a place to sleep. Good luck. Yours
*Since the writer mixed Kurrent and English letter forms Dr. Hahn is not sure about the spelling of the last name. We will research all the names for an architect from the correct period.
This translation identifies the proposed camera obscura as a commercial venture when it mentions "people who will visit it for shows" and "a small cellar for food, drink, and, if needs be, a place to sleep."
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Images of camera obscuras from our collection.
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