VERMEER’S CAMERA. A CIRCA 1920’S CAMERA OBSCURA INVENTED BY ANSON K. CROSS. RARE HAND MADE ORIGINAL

VERMEER’S CAMERA. A CIRCA 1920’S CAMERA OBSCURA INVENTED BY ANSON K. CROSS. RARE HAND MADE ORIGINAL

$2,695.00

VERMEER’S CAMERA. A CIRCA 1920’s CAMERA OBSCURA INVENTED BY ANSON K. CROSS. RARE HAND MADE ORIGINAL

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Offered for your consideration is this “Vermeer’s Camera”, called such by its inventor, Anson Kent Cross (1862-1944).

“VERMEER’S CAMERA,” American, c. 1920’s, issued by the “Anson K. Cross Art School, his curious optical instrument
measures 5” x 8” x 8” (13 x 20 x 20 cm), made of soft mahogany with brass hinging and screws.

It basically consists of two cameras obscura with adjustable separation of viewing direction. Each
is a right angle viewer; but by using a clever sideways focusing mechanism, the ground
glasses remain always in the same plane, and the lenses do not move in-and-out.
Condition is fine and all original throughout, with minor wear.

The objective of Cross’s device (as explained on the remnants of the ORIGINAL included instruction
sheet atop the instrument) is to present an image of the unfinished painting on one ground
glass, and an image of the object or subject itself on the other, for instantaneous
comparison. This method, according to Cross, resembles that attributed to Vermeer.
A very good example of “Vermeer’s Camera,” and quite rare.

Our instrument is marked “Patent Applied For” but a patent was granted on September 18, 1934. We estimate this unit was built in Circa 1920’s.

Cross was a painter and educator who developed systems for the teaching of painting and drawing. He worked from the 1880s until his death in 1944 to promote a series of “systems” and “vision-training aids” in instruction books and at art schools such as the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston and his Anson K. Cross Art School.

His writings include harsh words against the “art teaching establishment” and the art supply companies for their lack of acceptance of his theories and methods. A former student recently described him as an evangelist and the students as his disciples.

This device carries a mounted text panel on one side that explains its use. The text can be seen in a photo below. It was used in the course in “Vision Training” at his Anson K. Cross Art School. This school offered summer classes and home study courses from Boothbay Harbor, Maine in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The instrument does not have the feel of mass production so appears to be hand made for the school.

The text on the side and several Cross publications mention the theory that Vermeer used a camera obscura in his painting, a theory expounded since the 19th century.

We feel this relic is 100% original from the era, with the possible exception of the brass lens slide knobs that look to be later but vintage brass replacements or a larger more ergonomic original upgrade for easier handling.

The existing original minor scratches in the original patina can be greatly ameliorated by applying our natural balms of beeswax and dark natural carnuba elixers, if the buyer wishes.

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