Museo Galileo
Virtual Museum
Optical toy
    • Setting:
      Room I
    • Inventor:
      Jean-François Niceron
    • Maker:
      Jean-François Niceron
    • Date:
    • Materials:
    • Dimensions:
      700x430x530 mm
    • Inventory:
    • Optical toy (Inv. 3196)

An optical toy designed and made by Jean-François Niceron. The apparatus consists of an oil painting on a wooden board, fixed vertically to a second horizontal board carrying a wooden support. The painting represents a series of turbaned heads with a flag display in their midst. The support originally carried a tube containing a polyhedral lens and a diaphragm (the tube was lost in the 1966 flood). If the painting was observed through the tube, the portrait of Ferdinand II de' Medici appeared. The portrait was actually composed of separate fragments assembled through the multiple refractions produced by the polyhedral lens. Thanks to the refractions of a prismatic lens, this toy generates an optical illusion similar to anamorphoses. On the horizontal table is a partially deleted inscription praising Ferdinand II.