Anamorphic Cylinder
Lady at a virginal
(Click the image for a larger version)

 

The system in situ
(Click the image for a larger version)

Inverness Museum was organising activities around the history of Bonnie Prince Charlie. The Jacobites often had to keep their allegiance to the Prince secret, and they delighted in codes and symbols which confirmed their allegiance and could be used to identify fellow supporters.

The most colourful of these secret signs (and possibly the least secret) was the anamorph. This was a painting, on board or cloth, which appeared at first glance to be nothing but a random pattern. However, when a cylindrical mirror (or even a polished pewter tankard) was placed in the centre, the reflection showed a portrait of the Prince.

Anamorphic cylinders are available quite cheaply from educational suppliers, but Inverness wanted something more Jacobean. So I fired up my lathe, and produced a cylinder with plausible 17th century decoration.

shim