28 SEPTEMBER 1844, Page 20


THESE are the titles of two ingenious adaptations of the powers of the Opaque Microscope, that vary the optical illusions exhibited in the theatre of the Polytechnic Institution. The Proteoseope, which is the newest, consists of highly-magnified paintings of heads, illustrative of Cou.nts's Ode to the Passions ; the exhibition of which is accompanied by vocal and instrumental music. But this, though perhaps more popular, is far inferior in interest and novelty to the Physioscope, which represents the head of a living person magnified to such a colossal size that the proportions of the fabled Brobdignag race are attained by the living and moving image reflected on the disc. It was startling to see the darkness of the theatre suddenly illuminated by the radiant appari- tion of a benevolent and facetious physiognomy, that, judging from its size, must have belonged to an elderly gentleman of some sixty feet high ! The stupendous visage winked its enormous eye, opened its ca- pacious mouth—which was big enough to swallow an attendant whose head was lifted up to its vast jaws—drank off a crystal pail full of water, and, after reconnoitering the company through an eye-glass as big as a coach-wheel, bowed benignantly a head of Jovian dimensions, and vanished, to the wonder and delight of the spectators. Some wishes were expressed to see a female head—a Juno to match the Jupiter ; and so great an addition to the attractions of the Physioscope would not fall to be popular.

Apart from the amusement created by this philosophical toy, the phmnomena of light and shade as exhibited on the head and face are well worth the attention of painters. This amplified exemplification of the delicate gradations of light on a head, from the point of highest il- lumination to that of deepest shade, demonstrates the necessity of pre- serving these gradations in a painting, in order to produce the appear- ances of rotundity and animation, and preserve breadth of effect. The pictured heads of the Proteoscope looked flat and insubstantial.