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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » French art and cups & balls (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

fortasse
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Recently I've been studying cups and balls as depicted in European graphic art of the 18th and 19th centuries. The late Bob Read's wonderful work (concentrated on the 19th century) has been the main focus of my research although I should tell you that if you go on Google Images and type in "escamoteur" and then "le escamoteur", you will be pleasantly surprised at the large number of prints that will pop up. Using this and other similar words, you can come up with 40 or 50 images on your own. Bill Palmer also has some interesting prints on his museum website.

Anyway, the thing that really fascinates me is how, of all the European countries, France is represented so disproportionately in cups and balls art. I would estimate that of all the prints I've seen (and especially the prints in Bob Read's work), the French must account for something on the magnitude of 80% of the total artistic output, if not more. Bob Read himself commented on this imbalance.

Anybody have any ideas as to why that was so and why countries like England, Italy, Germany and the others have so little to show in the way of C&B art, at least in comparison to France?

Fortasse
Richard Evans
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I think one of the main reasons is that the cups and balls were a popular part of street entertainment during a turbulent time in French history - around the time of the French Revolution.

Many of the lithographs in Bob's collection show the cups & balls being used in cartoons lampooning authority figures - often portraying these individuals as decietful. This lampooning would have been unthinkable prior to the revolution, when 'the people' took control. Street magicians must have been a common sight for them to be used as a cultural reference point in these caricatures.

After the revolution, there was an increased interest in the lives of ordinary people: several series of lithographs were produced showing workers going about their daily lives. One of the best known is Carle Vernet's 'Cris de Paris', though other artists also produced similar work. Vernet's famous lithograph 'L'Escamoteur' is from this folio.

It would be interesting to hear other opinions.
I have six locks on my door all in a row. When I go out, I only lock every other one. I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking the locks, they are always locking three. Elayne Boosler
Bill Palmer
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I hope Bob's big work is released one day. It has a whole lot of material that does not show up on the net. There is a lot from Italy, Germany, Belgium, and the rest of Europe. Much of what is out there depends entirely upon how much the local artists were captivated by the cups and balls workers.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Pete Biro
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One of the fascinating thing about Read was the fact that he found one of the streets that was depicted in an early print. I think it was in Italy, and Bob went there and had a photo taken of him in the same pose and locale as the print.
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Bill Palmer
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He did that in several places. Almost every place in London that he was able to track down, he did something like that.

I know the print you are referring to, though I have it in my collection. It's an original, too, not a photocopy.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Richard Evans
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I've just found an excellent artile by Bob Read on this very topic: it's in Magic July 1997; vol 6 no. 11

- If you can find the issue, that'll give you an in-depth answer straight from the man who knew most about this subject.
I have six locks on my door all in a row. When I go out, I only lock every other one. I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking the locks, they are always locking three. Elayne Boosler
fortasse
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Thanks, Taliesin. I'll try to track down the magazine issue you've referred me to.

Fortasse
fortasse
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Does anyone know what has become of Bob Read's massive collection of C&B prints? Does a book still seem likely?

Fortasse
Bill Palmer
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Work is going on. I will see some of the big machers in the collection game in a couple of weeks. I'll find out what I can.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
fortasse
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Thanks, Bill. Hey, nice hat! Looks like you've been strolling through Sherwood Forest! (That is what it is, isn't it?)

Fortasse
Bill Palmer
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Yep. I fell asleep under a tree.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
ringmaster
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Bill,
Is there any chance that you will publish an english edition of "Joro" as an E-book ?
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Bill Palmer
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Not as an e-book. I may publish it as a regular book, though. I have been working on it for some time.

BTW, look up Rick Brooks. He just moved close to you. He posts here under Rikbrooks (I think.) You might send him a PM.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
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