JF Ptak Science Books Post 2570 Zoomology Series
I've written a number of times on this blog on using the "paper microscope" on finding small images hidden in plain sight within larger images in antiquarian prints. The image below is by Giuseppe Zocchi (1711-1767) (commissioned by the Marchise Andre Gerini at mid century to record the greatest of Florentine landmarks) and is entitled "Veduta del Ponte a S. Trinita, della Chiesa di S. Trinita e della colonna inalzata da Cosimo I.." and appears in his Scelta di XXIV Vedute delle principali contrade, piazze, chiese, e palazzi della Città di Firenze in 1757. The print displays the buildings and obelisk just down the way from the bridge whose name occupies the beginning of the image's description, the ponte Santa Trinita, a fabulous renaissance structure built a hundred years earlier. All we see of teh bridge though is is decking, though we do see a huge rise, which gives us a hint of teh bridge's nature--it turns out that this is the oldest elliptic arch bridge in the world. While the architecture is beautiful and teh perspective intersting, teh characters populzting the foreground are sometimes even more interesting. In general figures like this were used to take up empty bits of space and to provide perspective, and were depicted in the standard ways in which walking/riding humans are represented. In this case, however, there is a lot of social drama going on amidst the simple space fillers.
For example, in the bottom-left corner, we see doggies doing what doggies do, and also a disabled short person approaching a group of gentlemen in conversation:
In the middle of teh foreground there's a fight! Two people are watchiung and exclaiming, one is retreating, one man has been knoicked to the ground, while another is about to be hit by a roundhouse right:
And here there is some commotion in the foreground with the woman and the baby, while in the distance a bent-over man with a staff beseeches a group of three society-types with hat in hand:
Often in these cases the odd bits of human drama are more obscure--here it is easy to see if you look for it a little. In other cases a magnifier is needed to find the hidden bits, though M Zocchi places his sotto voce but very visible.