Keynote - Denis Pellerin - Theatricals

National Stereoscopic Association Convention for 3D Photography


Denis Pellerin; Photo historian, The Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy

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The Victorians did not have smartphones, DVD players, television, the internet, the radio or the cinema to escape and unwind with at the end of a working day. Fortunately, they had the theatre and then, a few years into the reign of Queen Victoria, the stereoscope was introduced. By means of stereoscopic photographs, it became possible to remember or relive some of the key scenes of the plays that were in vogue at the time. Theatricals, as we call stereo photos related to the theatre, first started on either side of the Channel with images of flesh and blood actors posing in a studio in their stage costumes and a few chosen props. By the mid-1860s, however, the production of theatricals had shifted almost exclusively to France, where very faithful reproductions of scenes from the most popular operas, operettas and plays were made using clay, wood, fabric and paint. These were sold in boxes of six or twelves stereo cards and were often beautifully hand-tinted on thin, hold-to-light paper. The masters of this genre, which went on well into the mid 1870s, were Louis Alfred Habert and Pierre Adolphe Hennetier, of Diableries fame. Habert worked for Lamiche then Block and produced all the models for the “Théâtres de Paris.” His colleague Hennetier, in the employ of Jules Marinier, created the “Actualités Théâtrales.” Thanks to their talent we can still get a very vivid impression of what theatrical performances were like in the second half of the nineteenth century, before emulsions became sensitive enough to enable operators to capture actors on stage during rehearsals or performances. With images from the Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy, home to one of the largest collections of theatricals in the world, join us for an evening at the theatre and discover some of the shows our ancestors enjoyed going to and took pleasure in recollecting, or discovering teaser-like, through the oculars of the “magical instrument.”

3D-Con ( is the annual convention of the National Stereoscopic Association (NSA). It is for photographers and collectors of stereo (3D) images and anyone interested in 3D imaging including 3D movies and Virtual Reality. It will be held August 12-15, 2021

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