Art/ Collection/ Art Object


Optical elements by Claude-Siméon Passemant (1702–1769)
ca. 1750
French, Paris
Gilt bronze, shagreen, tinted parchment with gold tooling, steel, brass, mahogany, mirror glass, glass
Gr. H. 24-1/4 in. (61.6 cm); Gr. W. and D. 10-3/4 in. (27.3 cm)
Metalwork-Gilt Bronze
Credit Line:
Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman Gift and Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, by exchange, 1986
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 525
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 ]
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