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Visual spectacle

As architects’ and stage designers’ skills developed, they amazed audiences at Festivals with the visual feats they contrived.   Fireworks in the open air with spectators at a safe distance were common throughout Europe.   In 1613, over the river at Heidelberg, fireworks lit up the sky for the wedding of the Elector Palatine.  Castles filled with explosives were situated in the middle with groups standing on the river banks observing the show.  

Illustration 24 shows the scene of the fireworks  at Heidelberg.

24. Press mark 605 a 27.   Wedding of the Elector Palatine and Elizabeth, 1613, fireworks – page 157 of 163.
Illustration 24

Even more spectacular were the festivities at Versailles in 1674, which ended with the blowing up of the palace of the enchantress Alcina.

25. Press mark 562* g 25 (1).   Versailles fêtes, 1674, destruction of Alcina’s palace – page 123 of 129.
Illustration 25

In Illustration 25 you can see the royal family and the court comfortably accommodated around the edge of the lake during the destruction of Alcina’s palace.

The scene was engraved by Israel Silvestre who had recorded the entire series of fêtes at Versailles from 1664 to 1678 and whose work became so famous that the plates were published and sold in separate editions.

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