Riding with the Devil (in Victorian France)


 A lovely piece about Brian’s Diableries book in LA Times…

23 October 2013

Jacket Copy

The devil was close at hand in Victorian-era France, particularly if you had a stereoscope. A series of double-image cards — Diableries — fit into a wooden viewer and leaped into 3-D, with witty, racy, frightening visions of hell. One hundred and eighty images are collected in the new book “Diableries,” which comes with a hologram-fronted slipcase and a fold-out stereoscope viewer. The book is written by Brian May — the Queen guitarist, who has a doctorate in astrophysics, is a collector — Denis Pellerin and Paula Fleming. It contains detailed context for each Diablerie, explaining political references, pointing out jokes and illustrating technical accomplishments. The images were created by photographing hand-sculpted scenes. They look sepia-toned in daylight and fill with color when backlighted, which is particularly frightening when the eyes of the damned glow red as the green devil parades by. The book includes both versions. Take a look inside.

Entree L'Enfer
Diableries: Abandon all hope – London Stereoscopic Co. / October 23, 2013 )

“We are standing outside the gates of Hell,” the authors of “Diableries” write, “Everyone seems to be looking straight out of the picture at us, giving us that special welcome to eternal damnation.”

GALLERY PICTURES HERE – descriptions as follows.

Diableries: Sneaky devil!- ( London Stereoscopic Co. / October 23, 2013 ) In this scene, the devil is getting people drunk and stealing their souls. That’s him hanging from a pillar, filling a woman’s glass with champagne. This image was signed by Pierre Hennetier, the originator of the Diableries.

Diableries: L’Enfer – ( London Stereoscopic Co. / October 23, 2013 ) In a frightening vision of Hell, the winged Devil uses a pitchfork to cram condemned souls into a boiling cauldron.

Diableries: Les Patineurs de L’Enfer – ( London Stereoscopic Co. ) It’s a jolly winter scene in hell: The devil (green eyes, red coat) and his bride (blue dress) go ice skating with the dead. No snowballs, however, to be found.

Diableries: Happy birthday, Satan! – ( London Stereoscopic Co. / October 23, 2013 ) For his birthday, Satan gets flowers, a triumphal arch, an organ grinder, gingerbread and a freak show. Some of the flourishes, like a monogram “S” on the arch, may have been a parody of Napoleon.

Diableries: Black Sabbath ( London Stereoscopic Co. / October 23, 2013 ) “Le Sabbat” — translated to “Black Sabbath” in English — is the only Diablerie to include witches and warlocks. It was created by Louis Habert, who sculpted each figure at a foot tall or more.

Diableries: Satan, Journalist – ( London Stereoscopic Co. / October 23, 2013 ) In “Satan Journalist,” Satan is both his own devilish self and the editor in chief of a newspaper trafficking in gossip and lies.

Diableries: Wheat harvest – ( London Stereoscopic Co. / October 23, 2013 ) A pastoral wheat-harvesting scene, peaceful and sweet — except that it takes place in Hades.

Diableries: Carnival – ( London Stereoscopic Co. / October 23, 2013 ) It’s carnival time in hell: Satan and his two lady friends wear costumes; a figure at left, based on Chicard, who introduced the cancan to Paris, dances; a parade is led by a fire-breathing dragon and fun is had by all.

Diableries: Cover- ( London Stereoscopic Co. / October 23, 2013 ) “Diableries” comes in a slipcase with a colored hologram on the cover. This image from the publisher really doesn’t do it justice.