Les Diableries

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Images depicted in Les Diableries appear to have been inspired by medieval danse macabre imagery such as this.

Les Diableries is the title of a series of stereoscopic photographs published in Paris during the 1860s.[1] The photographs, commonly known as stereoviews, portray sculpted clay vignettes which depict scenes of daily life in Hell. Much of the subject matter was satirical and mirrored the corruption and excess of Paris during the Second Empire. Napoleon III’s authoritarian rule was repeatedly the subject of criticism, as was the decadent lifestyle of the bourgeoisie.[2]

Creation and publication[edit]

At least three sculptors are known to have created vignettes for the series: Louis Alfred Habert, Pierre Adolph Hennetier, and Louis Edmond Cougny.[3] The series was originally published by Francois Benjamin Lamiche but was later taken over and expanded by the publisher Adolph Block.[4] A total of 72 scenes were published by Block. Many similar stereoviews, though of lesser quality, were subsequently published by a competitor of Adolph Block’s named Jules Marinier.[5]


The photographs were reverse colored by hand, then backed with a layer of tissue paper and sandwiched between two double window cardboard mattes. This format of stereoview is known as a "tissue view" or "hold-to-light view" and is similar to modern day slides or transparencies. For added effect, the eyes of the skeletons and various other creatures were pierced and dabbed with colored gelatin, causing their eyes to glow red.[6] The final product was then viewed through a stereoscope which produced a realistic 3D effect.


  1. ^ Journal General de L’Imprimerie et de la Librairie, Deuxieme Serie, Tome IV, Paris, 1860.
  2. ^ Schreiber, Robert A., Classification of Diableries, Stereo World Magazine, Vol. 30, No. 4, 2004.
  3. ^ Diableries: La Vie Quotidienne Chez Satan a la Fin du 19e Siecle, Balland, 1978.
  4. ^ Journal General de L’Imprimerie et de la Librairie, Deuxieme Serie, Tome XII, Paris, 1868.
  5. ^ Les Diableries: 3D Visions of Hell
  6. ^ Simonova-Bulat, Elena; Conservation Issues of Paper Stereo Transparencies

Further reading[edit]

  • Paula Fleming, Brian May, Denis Pellerin (2013), Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures in Hell, London Stereoscopic Company, ISBN 0957424604, OCLC 1008277251CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  • Mitch Kaba - Les Diableries: 3D Visions of Hell from the 19th Century

External links[edit]