I've written before about the found, incidental figures of "filler" art found in larger works,generally inconsequential images used to supplement the empty foreground or provide handy perspective or scale for the subject at hand. In this example, a steel engraving of Town Hall at Antwerp, the principal focus of the artist is the architectural structure, the public square and the surrounding buildings.
To give the whole engraving some buoyancy and scale, the artist provided a fairly active scene of town life going on in the square. Now of course he could've made the figures more generic, but the artist went far beyond that, recording some of the lost city life of the 1830's.
The truly interesting bit here is barely observable in the original; but, under magnification, we see a very rich and minuscule "engraved photograph" of a slice of daily commerce and street life in Antwerp. If you look at the central entrance to the town hall you can see three main (and large) doorways, and if you look closer still, you'll see something leaning against the portal at right.
Extraordinarily, what the artist snuck into the original is a tiny (2mm) figure watching over several tables of her (fruits?/vegetables?) ware, waiting for a customer. There doesn't seem to be much interest in her stuff, currently, and she has allowed herself a little relaxation, leaning against the doorway. I've found this sort of extremely minor subject matter and its ephemeral connection to the larger work at hand to be just fascinating. I wonder why such detail would be added--why would the artist, or engraver, take such care and interest in such minor visions. Perhaps this is just what was at hand on the days the artist fleshed out his work; perhaps it was the work of the engraver, alone, incising yet another semi-boring architectural image; desperate for a little artistic activity, adding some interesting, almost-invisible touches, here and there. Perhaps no one would ever really notice them, but whoever was responsible for adding such incredible, extra-dimensional details would certainly enjoy knowing they were there, recognized or not.
And while we're at it--why in the world was that log-like thing at the base of the extreme left of the Town Hall included in this picture? I just adore that such ephemeral interest was included in this type of work--its reasoning lost forever, except that which we give it.