The Caravan to Mecca. The Halt in the Desert; a toy theatre set in its original box on Collections Sphere from Khalili Collections
With a desert landscape backdrop and cut-out figures on wooden stands, this toy theatre uses intricate detail and imagination to depict the stopping of a pilgrim caravan. With 45 cut out figures and with an original box, the set was made by Matthias Trentensky (1790–1868), a retired army officer and printer who became the Austrian Empire’s foremost maker of toy theatres. Miniature theatres based on popular plays were common in the 19th century particularly in Europe, although this theatre may have been produced as a result of the increasing fascination with the Arab world at the time. The artist is likely to be Theodor Jachimovicz who studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and worked as a theatre stage painter for the State Opera House. Trentensky exported his toy theatres to England through the London company A&S Joseph Myers and Co. of 144 Leadenhall Street, importers of French, German, Swiss and Italian goods and toy merchants. It has been suggested that the theatres produced for London may be of better quality than those for the Austrian market. Other theatres produced for A&S Myers included those closely related to English themes, such as contemporary pantomimes. The collection also holds an uncut version of the theatre, a complete set of 24 plates with 168 illustrations.