Qualifying both as a work of art and as a scientific instrument, this compound microscope exemplifies the intermingling of artistic and scientific interests during the mid-eighteenth century. The microscope contains three convex lenses in its inner cylinder, which fits into a wooden tube covered with blue green shagreen (sharkskin). In order to look through the microscope, the ornamental finial cap of gilt bronze needs to be unscrewed. Passemant, ingénieur du roi, provided the optical elements of the microscope, but it is not known who made the beautiful gilt-bronze tripod stand. This instrument may have been made for Louis XV; a series of prints depicting scientific instruments from the royal collection at the château de la Muette includes three views of a microscope similar to this one.
Signature: Passemant au Louvre [Claude-Siméon Passemant (1702-1769)] (on base)
[ Dalva Brothers, Inc. , until 1986; sold to MMA ]
Artist: Jean Henri Riesener (French, Gladebeck, near Hessen 1734–1806 Paris)Date: 1778Medium: Oak veneered with marquetry of bois satiné, holly, amaranth, barberry, stained sycamore, and green-lacquered wood; gilt-bronze mounts; steel, iron and brass fittings; mirror glass; velvet (not original)Accession: 33.12On view in:Gallery 528