Book Review: Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures In Hell by Dr Brian May, Paula Fleming and Dennis Pellerin

by Paul Chapinal

For the uninitiated stereoscopy is viewing objects in three dimensions and the method of making or using stereoscopes and stereoscopic slides. Stereo cards contain two almost identical images that when viewed in stereo – usually with a viewer – become three dimensional.
The Diableries are a set of cards produced in France between the 1860 and 1900. They depict images of hell with devils, demons, satyrs and lots and lots of skeletons. They were mainly for entertainment, some gruesome, some humorous, some satirical, they imagination of the modeller’s and photographers knew no boundaries.

These cards are the subject of a lavish book authored by Dr Brian May, American photographic expert Paula Fleming and French photohistorian Dennis Pellerin.

This has been a passion of Dr May’s since he discovered the cards while rummaging in Portobello market many years ago. The very large coffee table breaking book is packed with information and aimed at both the enthusiast and beginner. The plates are sublime and when viewed through the May designed Owl Stereoscope literally takes on another dimension. It also helps to bring out the garish colouring hidden in the original cards originally revealed through back-lighting. A fascinating and engrossing book about an overlooked art

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