Brewster stereoscope

Francesco Zantedeschi bought this instrument for the Cabinet of Physics of the University of Padua in June 1852.

Inventor: David Brewster, b.1781 - d.1868

Maker: Maison Duboscq-Soleil, led by Jules Duboscq from 1849 to 1886.

Date: 3rd quarter 19th century


The instrument allowed to see two figures as one single tridimensional image. The two figures represented the object as one sees it respectively with the right and the left eye.

The stereoscope consists in a wooden box provided with two converging half lenses, which function as oculars. The pair of images to be observed was inserted on the opposite side of the box which was originally closed by a frosted glass plate, now missing. The plate served to diffuse the light in order to observe figures on glass. The small lid on the upper side of the instrument was originally covered with tinfoil, in order to reflect the light on opaque images fixed on cardboard. A wooden plate allowed to separate the fields of view. The light rays coming from the figures were deviated by the lenses, and the observer thus did not see the images in their original position any longer but, between them, he could see a new tridimensional image resulting from their juxtaposition.

The instrument was sent by Jules Duboscq to Zantedeschi in June 1852, as suggested  – and probably as a gift – by the Parisian instrument-maker T. Gourjon, mechanic at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris.


Duboscq Soleil à Paris DS


Bréveté S. G. du G.

Materials and techniques: wood/brass/ivory

Dimensions: height 10 cm, width 16 cm, length 18 cm

Related scholars: Francesco Zantedeschi (b.1797 - d.1873). Professor of Experimental physics at the University of Padua between 1850 and 1857.

Keywords: optics, pre-cinema

University of Padua, Museum of the History of Physics

Cat. Number: 684