I PHANTASMAGORIA INTRODUCTION -
THE MOISSE FANTASCOPE DISCOVERY
IN THE PROJECTED IMAGES BEFORE THE INVENTION OF FILM
image to see more fantascope prints
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
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
a bibliography for the Moisse Fantascope in PDF format
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
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
Jean Bélizaire Moreau, de Moulins,
to take on the task of adorning the Château.
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.
here to see and read about
military use of the Phantasmagoria
during the tumultuous days of the French Revolution.
Visit also Paul Burns'
History of the Discovery of Cinemathography'
for information on the Moise Fantascope.
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.
inside the Chapel of the Chateau de Moisse, restored by
Fortunately, the Fantascope was found with three different
lenses, each mounted on a wooden board and named here
after their respective purposes:
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
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:
view lenses: right