JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 500
One of the exercises I've undertaken in this blog is to try and see stuff from a different perspective, or from an uncommon point of view, which can give a little bit of fire to the common bit. And so that brought categories of posts like Blank and Empty Things, History of Smallness, Outsider Logic, Naive Surreal, the History of Dots, Bad Ideas, and the like. One small category (with only a few posts) is Looking Straight at Things, where the point of view for the observer is directly in front of the object, giving it a flat perspective--from my experience, this is an uncommon antiquarian viewpoint, especially when one looks straight up or straight down at something. Another small posting is
You Are There, where the observer is placed inside the body of the subject of the print, so that "you" can see "your" hands drawing the first map ever drawn in an aeroplane, and that sort of thing. Following on the heals of these last two is a new category, Inside Looking Out & Outside Looking In, where the viewer is rewarded with a similar you-are-there experience, as we see in these three examples. The first (above) is by Charles Rossiter (1827-1890), whose painting To Brighton and Back for 3/61 done in 1859 (almost exactly at the mid-point of the artist's life), puts the viewer on the opposing bench of the open-windowed railway car, with an oddly blank view of the passengers in the opposing section of the car. I can almost see my knees in the bottom of this panting, as I sit, sandwiched between a big-thighed someone and a big-armed someone-else, watching the small trials of human destinies unfold before my squinty-closed eyes, trying to enjoy the memory of the beach as we jostled our way back to London. (I would hope that I was decent enough to stand and allow the young mother and her baby standing there in the middle of the painting to have my seat, but it looks like this viewer is as unmoved as the rest of the semi-gentlemen of the car.)
Next is William Maw Egley (1826-1916), whose Omnibus Life in London2, also published in 1859, gives a wonderful view from beyond the back of the cab/bus, giving a very colorful overview of flouncy and mega-dressed inner-city mass transit. The red shawl business woman in the front-left definitely seems a little at odds with the rest of her traveling companions, though most are taking an interest in her beautiful basket of flowers.
The next and last image is a little odd, showing a view from the inside of a print shop looking out at people who are looking in. The print, One Touch of Nature Makes the Whole World Kin (1867) by Thomas P. Hall, is otherwise semi-satisfying in a mid-Victorian kinda way, what with the luminous and wondrous eyes filled with the beauty of the painting at left. Hall's work does live up to its name, though, the artist interestingly including a silk-hatted fob connoisseur with a monocle, some few children, a child laborer (a street sweeper, I guess, not unlike The Last Picture Show), three generations of women, a drayman with a pipe, and an omnibus driver--a good assortment and spectrum of people in such a small group.
There are no doubt collections of such images, not the least of which is a vast array of 17th century Dutch artists (like Gerard Dou) whose metier is of people looking through/resting on windows/windowsills. But I just happened upon these three in the course of my day, and liked them, and tried somehow to string them together so that they could be strung along with other like-positioned images some time in the future.
Image sources: 1. Google Arts https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/to-brighton-and-back-for-3s-6d/9QEUMspZpkiAIA?hl=en 2. Wikipedia Images https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omnibus_Life_in_London (3) Sorry but I can't recall the print origins--an image of the painting though is found here: http://www.artnet.com/artists/thomas-p-hall/one-touch-of-nature-makes-the-whole-world-kin-mqzYQuMG5612l_XuHSJjZg2