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Claude glass believed to be John Dee's scrying mirror, Europe, undated

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Stored in a sharkskin case and thought to have once belonged to John Dee (1527-1609), an English mathematician and astrologer, this object is known as a Claude glass. Associated with Claude Lorrain (1600-82), a French landscape painter, the base is made from a convex piece of glass with a black blacking. They were normally used by artists to look at landscapes. Dee is said to have used this object to predict the future by looking into the glass as if it were a crystal ball. This practice is known as scrying, a form of divination. Divination is the attempt to predict the future from signs and symbols and has been used for thousands of years in an effort to forecast the course of an illness or find the best treatment.

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    Glossary: divination

    The practice of seeking knowledge of the future through the interpretation of omens or other supernatural means.

    Glossary: Claude glass - optical drawing aid

    Device consisting of a black glass mirror of convex form in a carrying case. Used by landscape artists who observed their scene through the mirror, which would provide a picturesque aesthetic of a subtle gradation of tones. It is named after the artist Claude Lorrain (1600-1682) who is synonymous with this artistic movement.