Étienne-Gaspard Robert (Liege 1763 – Paris, 2 July 1837), often known by the stage name of ''Robertson'', was a prominent Belgian stage magician and influential developer of phantasmagoria.
Alongside his pioneering work on projection techniques for his shows Robert was also a physics lecturer and a keen balloonist at a time of great development in aviation.
Robert developed a phantasmagoria show based around his projection system and the use of other effects and techniques. Robert scripted scenes that involved actors and ventriloquism alongside his projections, creating a convincing impression of the appearance of ghosts. Robert used several projection devices in a variety of ways, including rear projection and projection onto large pieces of wax-coated gauze (giving the image a more translucent appearance). He also used smoke and mirrors to further disguise the mechanisms behind his show.
Robert appeared at the Pavillon de l'Echiquier on 23 January 1798 and performed his first show. His charisma and the never-before-seen visual effects left the audience convinced that they had seen real ghosts, with many left terrified by the performance.
After being investigated by the authorities, Robert's show was shut down in Paris. He moved to Bordeaux and continued to perform, before returning to Paris a few weeks later.
On his return to Paris Robert discovered that two of his former assistants had continued the performances without him. He refined his show, making it more elaborate and inventive and started performing in a more permanent location from 3 January 1799. The Gothic surroundings of the crumbling Couvent des Capucines
near Place Vendôme gave Robert the ideal eerie home for his show. The show was performed for four years, and Robert went on to take the show around the world, visiting Russia, Spain, and the United States among others.
Étienne-Gaspard Robert died in Batignolles, neighborhood of Paris in the 17th arrondissement.
At Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Division 8, Avenue Casimir Périer at the intersection with Chemin Serré.
Metro M2, Philippe Auguste.Note: GPS coordinates indicate the exact location of the grave.
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Robertson's phantasmagoria (Hieron)
Robertson's grave (Hieron)
Phantasmagoria on Robertson's grave (Hieron)
Inscription on Robertson's grave (Hieron)