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Claude Glass: The 18th Century Version of Instagram


Everybody knows that the Instagram app made its name giving photos an old, instant film look. But what if we were to tell you that there was something even before that time, even before cameras, that gave a scene the same aesthetic? Well there was, and it was called a Claude glass.

Named after artist Claude Lorraine, this small, blackened pocket mirror reduced the tonal values of whatever landscapes you pointed it at, while its convex shape simultaneously brought more of the scene into a single focal point.

Recently, artist Alex McKay and historian CS Matheson have created a claude mirror installation by placing a webcam opposite a 40-inch Claude mirror that is reflecting the Tintern Abbey. Unfortunately the webcam is offline now, but the gallery of pictures captured by the camera at different times of day and in different lighting situations really shows off the qualities of the mirror and the fact that, in many cases, the glass really does make a scene look like it’s had an Instagram filter applied.

The Transient Glance: The Claude Mirror and the Picturesque (via Kottke)

Image credit: Photographs by Alex McKay/The Claude Mirror and the Picturesque