Perspective machine

Relief plaque Samuel McIntire (American, 1757–1811)

Object Place: Salem, Massachusetts, United States

Catalogue Raisonné

Randall 215


Overall: 191.8 x 60.6 x 46.4 cm (75 1/2 x 23 7/8 x 18 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Pine, glass lens

Not On View





Optical machines were popular entertainments. This example was operated by removing the medallion and inserting prints into a slightly angled rack, in the base. Catching the light from a window, the prints were viewed through an eyepiece that projected a magnified image. Artists and craftsmen working in the neoclassical manner frequently employed the obelisk form, suggestive of a memorial monument. The portrait on the medallion and the carved urn on top are attributed to Salem architect and carver Samuel McIntire.


Label inside of bottom of urn: "Fanny S. Grey's Property"


Said to have belonged to Samuel Holten (1738-1816) of Danvers, Massachusetts, on , inherited by Fanny S. Grey; inherited on November 5, 1906, by her daughter, by Miss Maria Chase Grey; owned later by Maria Grey Kimball, Boston; purchased from Harry Arons, Ansonia, Connecticut, by the Museum in 1960 (Accession Date May 11, 1960)

Credit Line

Gift of S. Richard Fuller and Dudley Leavitt Pickman, Harriet Otis Cruft Fund and Charles Hitchcock Tyler Residuary Fund, by exchange