The Library Company of Philadelphia


Victorian Voyeurism



What do people do in private when no one is watching? A small but significant number of stereographs provide answers to this eternal question. Home entertainment in the 19th and early-20th century included looking at stereographs in stereoviewers, which created the illusion of 3D. At a time when a glimpse of stocking was shocking, boudoir scenes – staged with two or more women – were a popular theme in genre stereographs. Such images would have allowed more of a "gaze" than a "glimpse."


Burlesque probably inspired this type of stereograph. After the development of moving pictures, some of the earliest nickelodeon films were of the "peep show" variety. Now you, too, can peep at the stereographs, thanks to 3D-enabling software.