Jean-Pierre-François Lesguillon had been editing the long-running Almanach des muses (Rare Books Off-Site Storage 3229.1198) but when that annual poetry journal ceased publication in 1833, Lesguillon developed Le Lanterne magique, a monthly newspaper covering a wide variety of amusing topics. Although the image of the magic lantern appears on the title page of each issue, it is only an icon and not the focus of the magazine.
What is surprising is to find this eclectic Parisian magazine filled with illustrations engraved by the British artist John Thompson (1785-1866). Or perhaps not so surprising when we remember that the artist was the leading proponent of the medium and the illustrator of dozens of books and magazines. All his brothers and his sons were trained as wood engravers, although his eldest son, Charles Thompson (1816-1868), gave it up and became the V&A’s first official photographer.
The DNB calls Thompson “perhaps the ablest exponent that has ever lived of the style of wood engraving which aimed at rivalling the effect of copper, and his cuts in Fairfax’s ‘Tasso’ and Puckle’s ‘Club’ may be instanced as supreme triumphs of the art. For about fifty years he stood at the head of his profession, and, vast as was the amount of work he produced during that period, he never allowed it to become mechanical or degenerate into a manufacture.”