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PART I    PHANTASMAGORIA INTRODUCTION  -  THE MOISSE FANTASCOPE DISCOVERY
OR DEATH IN THE PROJECTED IMAGES BEFORE THE INVENTION OF FILM


 Click image to see more fantascope prints

IMPORTANT NEWS: The Moisse Fantascope and slides found a new permanent home and resides in the International Media Museum / IMM - QMA Qatar. The museum is scheduled to open in a few years.

The Moisse Fantascope
and his accessories used for the techniques described in the next pages were discovered almost 18 years ago in a French castle, Château de Moisse.
Thanks to 3 friends, Jean-Pol Theunissen, Rik Soenen & Peter Deduffeleer, I was able to purchase the Fantascope from the present owners, Ignaas & Simon.

The Château is located in the north part of the department “La Creuse”, 340km. south of Paris. The origins of the Château de Moisse, situated near the small village Bétête (300 inhabitants) in the Limousin region, go back to 1843 when the young Earl Claude François de Beaufranchet build his new home there.
The left image shows a drawing made by Rik Soenen and marks this spectacular and unprecedented discovery.

The Old House of the Earls de Beaufranchet was founded in the year 1250 at another location, the Château de Beaufranchet, in the small village of Saillant, part of the Puy de Dome region (3).

Download a bibliography for the Moisse Fantascope in PDF format

 

The Fantascope is currently on display at the Cinémathèque Française in the permanent exhibition 'Passion Cinema'.

The
Fantascope & accessories was on display in Lanterne Magique et Film Peint a temporally exhibition organized by the Cinémathèque Française and Museo Nazionale Del Cinema.

With neither fortune nor influence the young Earl Claude François de Beaufranchet took up residence in Paris in about 1780, and lived through the troubled years of the French Revolution without major difficulties. During the Directoire (1795 - ‘99) he wisely chose to side with the young General Bonaparte. The latter, while becoming the Great Emperor, gave permission to de Beaufranchet to play a public role.

This enabled the young Earl to carve out his fortune. Soon after the beginning of the Restoration , de Beaufranchet fell out of favour with Louis XVIII and left Paris to establish himself in the department “La Creuse.” Using his new fortune in 1816 he purchased a small castle in Tercillat and, later, several grounds in the area of Moisse. Gradually, he purchased several farmsteads and eventually became the owner of 1100 hectares. In 1843 he build a new residence the Château de Moisse and lived there comfortably in the midst of his property and tenant farmers.

According to the Earl’s heiresses the original Château de Moisse was a simple, strong construction which resembled a fortress more than a castle. They also mentioned that after the escape of Napoleon III and the collapse of the Second Empire, the Earl Fernand de Beaufranchet returned to his property and decided to enlarge & further adorn the castle. On this occasion Fernand de Beaufranchet asked the architect,
Jean Bélizaire Moreau, de Moulins, to take on the task of adorning the Château.

At the time M. Moreau de Moulins, un homme de goût et de culture, was inspired by early 17th. Century castles and the period of Louis XIII. He used all methods at his disposal to transform the castle into “un vrai Château”. The work, which took from 1878 until 1883, resulted in a beautiful neo-classical castle and his beauty is still preserved today. Several albumen photographs depicting the architect’s plans where found in the archives.
Click here to see and read about military use of the Phantasmagoria during the tumultuous days of the French Revolution.

Visit also Paul Burns' 'The History of the Discovery of Cinemathography' for information on the Moise Fantascope.

Although an large family archive was discovered by the present owner, sadly, no information concerning the fantascope & accessories has been traced. This makes the date of purchase and origin of the apparatus difficult to determine. possible manufacturers include Lerebours, Dubosq, Molteni and Chevalier. Even though this optical treasure looks more or less complete, I’m convinced that a lot of interesting accessories to the fantasmagoria (or phantasmagoria) have been irredeemably lost.
View inside the Chapel of the Chateau de Moisse, restored by Ignaas Deboute.

Fortunately, the Fantascope was found with three different lenses, each mounted on a wooden board and named here after their respective purposes:

Fantasmagoria lens, Megascope lens, and Dissolving view lens.
The latter lens set (obviously double) will also be explained here although this part of the website is limited to fantasmagorie effects.
However, it is appropriate to note that the presence of a cat eye on each dissolving lens (the only known example?) needs further research in order to reveal possible fantasmagoric use opposite the common use of Dissolving view lenses.
The latter type of double lenses is normally used to dissolve one image into another.
Since the above effect is possible annyway with the discussed lens without using the cat eyes, it will be a challenge to investigate the purpose of this typical phantasmagoria accessorie on the third lens.

Cat Eyes on the:
- Dissolving view lenses: right
- Phantasmagorie lens: left

 
Next page of introduction

Phantasmagoria Slides examples Page I & Page II

Phantasmagoria links: Page I - Page II - Page III - Page IV - Page V - Page VI - Page VII - Page VIII - Page IX - Page X - Page XI - Page XII - Related Deadly entertainment

La splendeur de la lumière ne peut exister sans ombres*