IT WAS to be expected that the face an head images published in the works of the
author and Mme. Bisson, appearing, as they do, in the form of isolated flat or
mask-like forms, with or without a drapery of veils, should meet with severe
criticism. As already discussed in detail in the chapter on negative points, a
superficial examination of these photographs must, on account of their pictorial
character and other resemblances to drawings sharply cut out, suggest fraud,
unless the experimental conditions are taken into account, and this is,
apparently, confirmed by the folded, crossed, torn and crumpled appearance of
many of these productions.
This circumstance has been exploited by the Brothers Durville of Paris, owners
of an institute for animal magnetism and massage, and proprietors of a
book-selling and publishing business for the literature of the subject. In the
journal The Psychic Magazine, founded by them on 1st January 1914, they
published a series of articles directed against Mme. Bisson's book.
Their collaborator, Miss B. Barkley, claims to have identified a number of the
head images produced by Eva C., and published in our works. She says, in No. 1.
of the magazine mentioned:
"In Mme. Bisson's book there are no real materialisations, but only pictorial
representations of faces. All these belong to well-known personages. The medium
took her choice among the celebrities of the moment, contenting herself, in a
childish manner, with defacing certain pictures by a few ridiculous and
"Take, for instance, Fig. 119 to 121" (in the author's work,
Fig. 119 and
Fig. 120), "which show the features of a woman. The
inner camera registered on Fig. 112" (the author's
Fig. 119) "the
word 'Miroir.' The medium therefore used the journal Le Miroir for her
images... Now, it is remarkable that the heads are nearly always the same size
as that of the medium [incorrect - author]. We have therefore to deal with
fraud by the latter."
The lack of clearness in the above expressions concerning
Fig. 119 and
Fig. 120 produced, in the translation into German, the wrong impression that
these belong to a single series of images produced at the same sitting, so that
some critics have erroneously supposed that on one side of the exposed
phenomenon the word 'Miroir' was to be read, and, on the other, a female face
was to be seen. This supposition is not supported by the photographic data. For
the picture representing the side view from within the cabinet (Fig. 119),
and containing the word 'Miroir,' was produced in the sitting of 27th November
1912, and this isolated phenomenon had nothing to do with the head image (Fig.
120). The sitting of 29th November was negative as regards materialisations.
It was only at the next experiment on 30th November 1912 that a well-developed
female face (Fig. 120) could be photographed, standing on the medium's
head The photographic results obtained on 27th and 30th November 1912 (Fig.
118, Fig. 119 and
Fig. 120) are therefore quite independent of each
The heads of celebrities reproduced on the front pages of the journal Le
Miroir are a little below life-size, and are all in black and white
Miss Barkley's allegations were taken up by the Neue Wiener Tageblatt, and
elaborated as follows:
"Miss Eva prepared the heads before every séance, and endeavoured to make them
unrecognisable. A clean-shaven face was decorated with a beard. Grey hairs
became black curls, a broad forehead was made into a narrow one. But, in spite
of all her endeavours, she could not obliterate certain characteristic lines. I
(Miss Barkley) eliminated the disguises and reproduced the originals from the
ghost pictures. There is, first of all, a picture of M. Poincaré. The hair of
the President of the Republic has been altered and blackened, and his face has
been lengthened, but all the other characteristic lines of his face remained. In
a similar manner I have established the identity of all the other ghosts. I find
among them the heads of President Wilson, of Paul Deschanel, the, King of
Bulgaria, and several eminent actresses of the Comédie Française."
According to the same journal, on 30th December 1913 the medium is supposed to
have photographed every picture after these retouching operations. The journal
"A tall ghost in white drapery was Ferdinand of Bulgaria, only thinner. And
another ghost is the beautiful actress Mona DeIza, only deprived of her
beautiful hair and of her eyebrows."
The Parisian daily Le Matin did not allow such an opportunity for a
sensation to escape, and published a whole series of articles (15th, 26th, 27th
and 29th December 1913 and 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 8th January 1918) centring round
Miss Barkley's alleged discovery.
Before proceeding to a strict examination of the material brought forward by
Miss Barkley to support her serious accusation, I may refer to some explanatory
remarks regarding these pictures published in Part I. It seems, in the first
instance, to be faulty logic to derive a proof of fraud from the constitution of
the materialised object, since there is always the possibility that such
apparently suspicious substances may be produced by the medium under conditions
excluding all fraud. In this connection I may refer to the discussion in the
section on negative points and the hypothesis of fraud. The further question as
to whether, in the sittings referred to, the conditions were so arranged that
fraudulent manoeuvres, enabling the medium to hide and smuggle in such pictures,
were impossible, must be answered in the affirmative. In the sitting of 27th
November 1912, in which the word "Miroir" was produced, both the cabinet (chair,
walls, floor and curtains) and the medium's body (dressed only in tights and a
black apron dress) were examined before and after the sitting. Eva C. was sewn
into the dress at the waist, the back, the neck and the sleeves.
Still in the white light, and just before hypnosis, Eva's hands, being in front
of the curtain, and holding both flaps, were laid on her knees, and remained
there illuminated with the red light during the two hours of the sitting. At the
extinction of the white light, Mme. Bisson held Eva's hands. The record was
kept during the sitting, the times being correctly stated.
In this sitting also the medium's hands remained outside the curtain, visible in
the red light (one hundred candle-power) until the close of the sitting, and
could not have been used for the alleged unpacking and fastening of a disk-like
structure on her hair, on the interior of which the word "Miroir" was printed.
Immediately on the ignition of the magnesium light at 10.42 p.m., the phenomenon
disappeared without a trace. The final examination of the medium and the cabinet
was negative. How could this absolute disappearance take place in the fraction
of a second? The author, by the way, closes the account of this sitting with the
words: "I can at present form no opinion concerning this curious result."
The picture which Miss Barkley describes as resembling President Poincaré was
taken by the author at the sitting of 6th March 1913. Before this, as before
every other sitting, the cabinet and the chair were examined. (See report of the
sitting of 6th March 1913.)
The second photograph taken during this sitting is reproduced in
and Fig. 143, and is supposed to resemble President Poincaré, as regards the
shape of the tie! The first picture during the same sitting shows a
Let us assume for the moment that Miss Barkley is right. How would the medium
have been able to hide the Miroir reproduction, to unravel it, to expose it on
her head, and to make it disappear without a trace? The movements observed in
the head when first seen gave the impression of a filmy substance and not of
paper, and whence the accompanying phenomena? And what is the connection between
the self-luminous neuroblastic structure and the picture from Le Miroir?
Is it rationally thinkable that, amidst the most puzzling phenomena which are
sometimes exhibited even on the medium's naked body, suddenly a Miroir
reproduction should appear? That is not only improbable, considering the course
of the sitting, but is impossible on account of the experimental conditions
observed during this sitting.
The materialisation identified with President Wilson (Fig. 136) was taken
by Mme. Bisson alone, whereas the one provided with the three warts, also
identified with President Poincaré (Fig. 149), was obtained in the
presence of the Paris physician Dr Bourbon, while the medium's head was entirely
sewn up in a veil, and while her hands remained visible outside the curtain
during the whole sitting.
Miss Barkley now owes us a proof that under such conditions a Miroir picture
could be exposed.
Miss Barkley's assertion that our books contain no true materialisations, but
only pictorial representations of heads and faces, can surely only mean
portraits reproduced on a flat surface. But in answer to this we may refer to
the arguments brought forward on page 280, Part 1.
All these careful individual observations, the regular recurrence of the same
process of development and disappearance, and especially the plasticity of many
faces, as proved by mathematical and stereoscopic considerations, cannot be
brought into harmony with Miss Barkley's hypothesis, which, in any case, is
based only on very few appearances. Although the conditions of the control at
the sitting of 27th November 1912, in which the word Miroir was produced,
excluded fraudulent manipulation, so that the phenomena obtained must be
declared to be genuine, I shall yet examine the objections of the critics who
utter the suspicion that the heading of the journal Le Miroir might have been
exposed in this case (Fig. 183).
In order to examine this question independently, the author made test
experiments with two title-pages of Le Miroir of the year 1912, reconstructing
the photographic conditions of the sittings (Fig. 184).
In all cases, as shown by the expert opinion of Dr Hauberrisser, the type comes
out much too weak in comparison with the strong development of the original
letters on our negative. Now, we could hardly assume that the colour and shape
of the letters could be increased by any transfer process, especially when the
original is printed. On the contrary, such a reproduction always shows a
diminution of the colour contrast in comparison with the original. Now, if we
wished to assume that Eva had strengthened the letters by hand, she would have
been wiser to draw the letters herself to begin with. That would have been much
simpler than the very lengthy process described by the critics. Besides, any
manual retouching would be easily traced in the considerable enlargement of a
transparency. We may therefore assert, on the basis of the expert tests, that in
print both the original Miroir title-page and a reduced reproduction thereof,
when photographed under the original conditions, yield other and very much
weaker pictures than those shown by the strongly marked letters of the
Neither the original print of the Miroir, nor any copy of the same, technically
produced, can, therefore, have been exposed on that occasion. Hence the genesis
of these letters is none other than the process by which pictorial
materialisations products are generated. We have, therefore, the two following
facts: (1) With an exposure of headings of the journal Le Miroir we
cannot produce a negative such as is shown in
Fig. 119; (2) the shade and form
of the letters does not differ materially from the productions of the printers'
The presence of the article "Le" indicates some connection with the journal
Le Miroir, and it is not probable that there is some other connection, such
as an advertisement in another paper, As regards the similarities described by
Miss Barkley (Fig. 95, Deschanel;
Fig. 108, Mme. Leconte;
116, Mme. Faber; Fig. 120, Mona DeIza;
Fig. 136, President
Wilson; Fig. 138, Ferdinand of Bulgaria;
Fig. 143 and
President Poincaré), these so-called identifications, by their grotesque
exaggeration, constitute a first-class journalistic bluff, which reduces itself
to the correspondence of certain details in only three pictures, i.e.,
136, Fig. 143 and
Fig. 149. All the rest belong to the region of
arbitrary guesswork. Correspondences in certain features, lines and directions
of gaze can, in any case, be easily discovered. One need only examine
illustrated journals from this point of view, and one will find astonishing
similarities where there is no connection between the two objects compared.
Besides, a chance similarity of type is very frequently found in external form,
pose and expression. That is easily explained, since organisms, such as human
beings, have developed according to the same morphological principles, and have
a certain sameness in that development. Nothing is easier, for instance, than to
discover two entirely similar noses in two people not related to each other; or
to find similar collars and ties on different men. But if we go as far as Miss
Barkley, then, finally, every comparison can be permitted, for every human being
has two legs, one nose, two eyes, and two ears. He moves according to definite
rules; he is dressed according to the fashion of the day, which suppresses all
individuality. Thus, between any two male individuals, certain qualities and
correspondences can always be found.
An interesting example is furnished by
Fig. 108, obtained as a third
flash-light photograph at the sitting of 5th August 1912 in Munich. Now, the
alleged Miroir original of this photograph (Fig. 185 and
the portrait of the actress Mme. Leconte, appeared on 4th August 1912 in Paris.
We may regard it as impossible that Eva C. could have seen this journal only
twenty-four hours afterwards, on the 5th August, in Munich, and could have
altered it and used it for fraudulent purposes. In judging of this point, we
must take into account the fact that this photograph shows, in itself, a
Fig. 103, the first photograph of 5th August 1912,
shows the same type of face with less elaboration. In both cases we have to do
with the same model. This is shown by a comparative study of the expression, the
build of the nose, forehead and eye-sockets, and the fabric ornamentation. The
flash-light photographs are not rigid drawings on an unchanging surface, but
show a flowing variation, with a change of numerous details. Besides, the
dissimilarity of all details in the Miroir picture (Fig. 185) is almost
as great as it can be, compared with
Fig. 186, although we may recognise
a distant similarity in the formation of the head.
The picture which is supposed to represent Mona DeIza (Fig. 122 and
188) did not appear in the Miroir at all, but in the Journal
Femina of April 1912, below life-size, and could be obtained commercially
only in a small size through Felix & Cie, Paris (Fig. 187). How this
picture, redrawn life-size, could be exposed as
Fig. 120 of this work,
has not been indicated by Miss Barkley. She contented herself with adopting the
fraud hypothesis, without a shade of similarity or a particle of evidence.
The comparison of Fig. 140 with the King of Bulgaria, whose portrait was
made as similar to the phantom as possible by means of a bathing wrap (Fig.
189), is also entirely devoid of foundation. It appears from a letter from
an Italian correspondent, that he finds the greatest resemblance between the
phantom and a deceased relative of his. While Dr von Gulat, in Frau von Kemnitz'
pamphlet, asserts that it resembles the author. Perhaps there will be a few more
In comparing Fig. 191 with the head of the politician Deschanel (Fig. 190),
there is only the direction of the gaze to go upon. All the other lines and
features are entirely different.
The examples quoted suffice to reduce Miss Barkley's arbitrary constructions
In another picture, Fig. 192 (Fig. 149), the comparison with the face of
Fig. 198, reduces itself to a similarity of the three
pimples on the left fold of the cheek. The development of the left nostril is
similar in both, but not the same, since it forms a greater elevation on the
phenomenon picture. All the other lines - the whole build of the face, the eyes,
and the gaze are quite different in the two pictures. Furthermore, the
expression, in the phenomenon pictures, is particularly lively, and much more
marked than in the Miroir original, which could hardly be expected in a
secondary reproduction. In addition, the stereoscopic photographs show
distinctly that the hair on the phenomenon consists of actual hair. Also, the
size of the two pictures, compared by taking one part - say the nose - as a
unit, is so different that no amount of redrawing could have enabled any one to
use the Miroir picture as the foundation for the alleged transformation.
As regards the three pimples, the fold joining the nose and cheek are specially
favoured positions for such growths. Thus, the late M. Alex. Bisson had three
pimples exactly in the same spots. We might, therefore, assert with the same
show of reason that his portrait had been used as a model.
When the publications in the Matin gave rise to the suspicion that for the
above-named mediumistic picture portraits from the journal Miroir had
been redrawn and fraudulently used, the author went to Paris, cut the heads in
question out of the numbers of the Miroir, and photographed these on the
medium's body, with the help of the photographer Barenne, in the séance room,
under photographic conditions precisely the same as those of the sittings, in
order to decide whether autotype prints could have been exposed by the medium at
all. But, as shown by the agreement of the expert opinions of the Paris and
Munich photographers, in all these tests the Miroir pictures came out uniformly
so feeble, and so devoid of vivacity and relief, and markedly less defined than
the reproductions shown in this work, that, for this reason alone, Miss
Barkley's hypothesis is untenable.
In particular, the photograph of the head of President Wilson, as seen in the
reproduction of our test experiment, is immediately recognised as a
reproduction, since on the left shoulder and the breast of the coat, as well as
on the lip, eyelid, and moustache, the marks of the process plate can be seen
with a magnifying glass, and betray the process of reproduction. It is
altogether an impossibility entirely to eliminate these marks of the process
plate by manual treatment; nor can the grain of the photographic plate be relied
upon to obliterate the dots of the Meisenbach screen. Considering the large
number of illustrations, the origin would be betrayed somewhere. In some places
the autotype tonings would be retraced, as in
Fig. 19, where even the
structure of the medium's skin is seen, that being a proof of the sharpness of
the photography. The screen used for the figures in the Miroir shows four points
per millimetre, and is therefore fairly coarse and easily recognised. We must,
indeed, in judging of the phenomenon photographs, take into account that the
simple exposures do not show the plastic character of the fabrics and veils
added to the portraits, and may thus give rise to errors, since these veilings
almost always show some kind of pattern (moire structure), which could easily be
mistaken for the screen pattern. As regards the composition of the draped
mediumistic heads, the stereoscopic photographs are decisive. By manual
treatment the screen pattern, particularly the half-tones, cannot be entirely
obliterated, while any painting over the pattern would be immediately recognised
with the naked eye. The phenomenon pictures reproduced, if obtained from art
publications, would have to show a moire structure in the photographs as
reproduced, owing to the interference of the double pattern, but that is not the
This is another reason for saying that prepared Miroir reproductions cannot have
been exposed as materialisation phenomena.
Of particular interest is a comparison of
Fig. 143 with the same Miroir
portrait of President Poincaré. One remarks the same cross striping and the same
distribution of light and shade on the long ends of the two ties; while the
upper loop of the phenomenon is short and broad, and only shows one cross fold.
Poincaré's tie is provided with a longer knot and several cross folds. There are
other distinct and obvious differences, especially in the narrower end of the
tie, which, in the phenomenon, appears torn off, and ends a few millimetres
below the knot. There are also distinct differences in the opening of the
waistcoat and coat, as well as the length of the beard. It is certain that no
exposure of the Poincaré original, in spite of the similarity of some details,
would give an image of the neck portion equal to that of the phenomenon.
Careful measurement also shows that the phenomenon head is large in proportion
to the dimensions of the tie, and that no exposure, even after working up
details, will give the phenomenon picture of 6th March 1913. Such difficulties
may also have occurred to the person who wrote the attack in the Matin of 26th
December 1913, in which great emphasis is laid on the similarities in the two
ties, for in presenting the two portraits the phenomenon picture was changed
almost beyond recognition. The lines of the eye were strengthened, the tie was
darkened and redrawn, so that now both the ends run into the knot. Also, a wing
of the collar, which is not in the original, was added. The collar of the coat
was changed, the tie was lengthened, and the folds of the coat collar were
modified. In this way, of course, any degree of similarity can be artificially
The illustrations Fig. 194 and
Fig. 195 show the accuracy of these
observations. It was unfortunate that the whole attack on the illustrations in
the works of Mme. Bisson and the author was based upon this picture, which had
been worked up in favour of the hypothesis of fraud, and was largely quoted in
the German and foreign press. None of the critics seem to have considered it
worth while to verify the assertions in the Matin by comparison with the
originals in our books.
Another important point in comparing the autotype pictures of the
materialisations is that the medium, in our photographs, always shows the same
photographic exposure as the products; even when the latter are pictorial, and
this is not the case with prepared illustrations or drawings, as. is shown by
the following opinions:
Opinion of the Photographer, Barenne (Paris).
"I, the undersigned, hereby declare that for four years I developed the
photographic plates handed to me by Dr von Schrenck Notzing, and derived from
the sittings with Eva C, at the residence of Mme. Bisson. Dr von Schrenck has
always been present at the development of the negatives.
"It has been asserted that the medium used portrait heads published in the
journal Le Miroir.
"In order to refute this accusation, Dr von Schrenck called on me, and on
Friday, 9th January 1914, we made test experiments in Mme. Bisson's flat, by
attaching the portrait heads in question to the medium, seated in the cabinet,
or asking her to hold them. For this purpose we had cut out first the portrait
of President Poincaré (Fig. 193); secondly, that of President Wilson; thirdly,
that of the King of Bulgaria (Fig. 189); and fourthly, that of Mme. Lecomte. All these portraits had appeared in the
Miroir. Besides these, a test
photograph of the heading of the journal Le Miroir was made, when held against
Eva's hair (Fig. 184).
"We endeavoured to take these photographs under precisely the same conditions as
the photographs of the original sittings. Immediately on developing the plates I
found that the development met with extraordinary difficulties, which had never
been encountered in the negatives obtained with Eva C. The impression made by
the photographed pictures is feeble and lifeless. The pictures came out too
light in tone, and were veiled on the negative.
"I had to employ a special process to obtain detail on the cut-out heads, while
preserving the life-like character of the medium's head. Such an expedient had
not been necessary during the four years of work with the mediumistic plates. On
the contrary, the expressiveness of the materialisation on the plate was always
in right relation with the clearness of the medium's features. I must also
remark that the slightest correction with the retouching pencil of the faces
reproduced would have been recognised immediately on development. Every
photographer would say the same, just as every photographer can confirm that the
fundamental substance of the materialisations of Eva C. gives no impression of
"We may, therefore, assert with absolute certainty that the medium cannot have
used the reproductions in question.
(Signed) BARENNE, Photographer,
Paris, 11th January 1914
"Rue Duret, 27 bis."
Opinion of the Photographer, Albert Halse (Paris)
"For the last two years Mme. Bisson has handed me photographic plates for
development without any further details. The negatives excited my interest to a
great extent. Anxious to obtain an explanation, I enlarged the pictures on the
negatives until the medium had the dimensions of a giantess. Whenever I had any
doubts with regard to the objects represented, I employed this means of
satisfying my thirst for knowledge. A very strict examination of the
materialisations, thus enlarged, always brought me back to the conviction that
it was not a case of deception. Later, Mme. Bisson also asked me to produce
enlargements of various pictures. Now it has been maintained that these
photographs were produced with cuttings from journals. Such an assumption is
only consistent with a very superficial examination. No photographer, familiar
with photographic technique, would make such an assertion, since he has at his
disposal more scientific methods of control than a simple examination with a
magnifying glass. As regards the supposition that the negatives themselves were
fraudulently produced, one may assert the absolute contrary with a clear
conscience. Since the photographic methods, now generally known, are practised
even by amateur photographers, any one can recognise, with ease and certainty,
whether or not these negatives have been retouched. The repairing of small
unexpected injuries to the pictures was abstained from in order to be able to
say quite definitely that even the slightest correction had never been applied.
At Mme. Bisson's request, I photographed some of these illustrations for
comparison. The pictures look different from the photographed phenomena of
materialisation, for the latter appear on the negative quite distinctly and
clearly during development as if they were objects in relief, while the former,
under the same conditions, appear grey, flat and indistinct.
"(Signed) ALBERT HALSE
"Paris, January 1914."
Opinion of Dr Georg Hauberrisser (Munich)
"Munich, 15th January 1914.
"I was commissioned by Dr Freiherr von Schrenck Notzing to ascertain whether
pictures, cut out of the journal Le Miroir, and worked upon by hand, could have
been used for representing the materialisation phenomena. I am convinced that,
in spite of several agreements in detail (tie, eye-glass, pimples), cut-out
pictures could not have been used in their original condition. As every
photographer knows, the time required for a black and white picture is only from
one quarter to one-eighth of the time required for persons and other things. If,
therefore, the head of the medium is correctly exposed, a picture from the
Miroir would be nearly white, owing to over-exposure, and would only appear very
"By a practical experiment, in which all conditions were, as far as possible,
the same as at the sittings (same flash-light, powder in same quantity, same
distance, black background, same opening of diaphragm, same plates and
sensitiveness, similar development, and other treatment of the negatives), a
head cut out of the Miroir was, indeed, obtained, nearly white, with only very
slight definition, something like a relief in plaster of Paris, while the
phenomena, in Dr von Schrenck's originals, show strong definition, and about the
same brightness as the medium's head. The title of the journal Le Miroir, when
photographed under the same conditions, also only appears feeble, while, in Dr
von Schrenck's photograph, the letters are clearly marked.
"Heads cut out of the Miroir can, under the same conditions, only have been used
by colouring the paper with a non-actinic colour (brown, red, or yellow) and
strengthening the drawing by hand in nearly all its parts. The cut-out heads
could be obtained with the same clearness as the materialisation phenomena, if
the exposure were reduced some sixteen to thirty times, but in this case the
experimental photographic conditions would be quite different from those applied
by Dr von Schrenck Notzing.
"(Signed) Dr GEORG HAUBERRISSER, Photo-Chemist."
Opinion of Professor Hertmann Urban (Munich)
"Dr. von Schrenck Notzing handed to me, on 12th January 1914, No. 34 of the
French journal Le Miroir, on the front page of which was found a portrait of
President Wilson. He also gave me a greatly enlarged photograph of a male
portrait reproduced as Fig. 136 of the Phenomena of Materialisation. The problem
was to ascertain whether this portrait could have been produced by changing, or
working-up, President Wilson's head, as was maintained in the Psychic Magazine
of 1st January 1914. On a superficial examination of the two pictures, there
certainly appear to be some correspondences or similarities of detail, which
suggest a discussion of the assumption, and giving rise to some suspicion.
"Both pictures (Fig. 196 and
Fig. 197) show the same form, the same shading, and the
same lines of collar and tie. But exact measurements, with a scale, show that
the lines in the materialisation photograph run differently from those in the
Wilson portrait, especially on the right-hand edge of the tie. In the picture of
the phenomenon, the tie on the right is more round and bunchy. The coat collar
of the phenomenon is also more vertical and stretched than in the Wilson
portrait. The tie itself shows an agreement in both pictures, as regards
drawing, especially in the shading and folds. The right-hand portion of the
shirt and coat collar also corresponds to the Miroir reproduction.
"While Wilson's head is bent to the right and is pointed below, the head of
Fig. 196 is placed quite straight on the shoulders and does not taper below, having a
broader jaw down from the cheek-bone. The middle of the lips is also displaced
towards the right, which is not the case in the Wilson portrait. That this
displacement, which only affects the head and not the basis, could have been
produced by the method of photography, seems to me impossible, for the whole
picture would have to give a distorted impression, which is not the case, as is
particularly evident from the regular forehead and eye portion. In painting,
there is usually a numerical proportion, the line passing vertically through the
centre of the face, being divided into three approximately equal parts, which
are - first, forehead down to the root of the nose; second, root to tip of nose;
third, tip of the nose to the point of the chin. Now, if the Wilson portrait had
been changed by drawing and then exposed, these constant proportions would also
have to agree, both in the phantom reproduction and in the Miroir original.
"The height of the forehead fits nearly three times in the vertical middle line
in Wilson's portrait, while, in the phantom photograph, the same ratio is over
three and a half, the forehead being too low in comparison with the lower
portion of the head, the chin being rather short. If the Wilson portrait had
been used, it is difficult to say why, in
Fig. 196, the head stands vertically
on the neck, or perhaps somewhat bent backwards, which makes the chin project,
while in the Miroir picture the head is bent forward, with a slight turn towards
the right. The result is that, in the Miroir picture, the forehead is nearer the
camera and the chin seems to recede, while in the phenomenon picture the lower
half of the head projects, and the forehead is slightly further away from the
camera, which may account for the short forehead. If a horizontal line is drawn
over President Wilson's eyebrows and touching them, the ear is a trifle below
this line, on account of the head being bent forward. If the same is done in the
phenomenon portrait, the ear is rather lower, which indicates either a bending
backwards or an entirely upright position. That is a point determined by the
proportions of the lines, and cannot be affected by redrawing, without entirely
displacing the axis of the phenomenon head. The objection that the forehead had
been cut short is disposed of by the fact that the typical position of the head
would not be affected, even if the forehead were raised.
"At first sight the right eye is apparently the same in both pictures, and the
upper line of the eye-glass passes in the same direction, but a further
examination shows that the eye in the Miroir picture is straight when a diameter
is drawn through the corner of the eye, while the same ratio, applied to the
phenomenon head, shows a slight inclination to this line, the outer corner being
higher (Mongolian eye).
"Furthermore, the drawing of the eye-glass, in the phenomenon picture, is a
displaced oval, while in Wilson's case the outline of the eye-glass shows the
regularity and accuracy of a photograph. The differences in the eyebrows, and
the line of the hair, need not be dealt with in detail, since such changes could
be produced with a chalk pencil, as Miss Barkley suggests.
"I have tried to convert the Wilson portrait into a copy of the phenomenon
picture with a charcoal pencil, but it was impossible to alter the position of
the head, which shows at once that this picture cannot have been used
fraudulently for the phenomenon picture. It also appears to be impossible to
hide the marking of the half-tone screen by drawing, especially in the light and
middle tones, while, in the enlargement of the phenomenon head, I discovered no
indications of the half-tone screen, as would have been the case if the Wilson
portrait had been drawn over and thereafter exposed.
"Neither could I transform the chin into the characteristic shape of the
phenomenon image, because one could only obliterate the line of the chin by
erasure, a process which is not only fatal to thin paper, but which would also
dispose of the half-tone marks, and that would be immediately discovered in a
photograph. Such significant marks of the half-tone screen are not found in the
original, although, in the reproductions of the phantom picture in the book,
they are easily recognised. It follows that the marks of the half-tone screen
cannot be hidden at all, and betray themselves with absolute certainty.
"To this must be added that the enlargement of the original negative handed over
to me is nearly double the size of the reproduction of this negative in the book
itself (with visible screen marks). Screen marks would, therefore, have to be
more characteristic and visible with the naked eye, while they are actually not
even seen with a magnifying glass.
"The phenomenon image recalls a typical soft charcoal or chalk drawing, and
therefore suggested a charcoal drawing. The latter cannot show the screen
structure throughout. That could only be obtained by liquid painting,
superimposed gouache or water-colour. This is contradicted by the characteristic
appearance of the phenomenon picture, which recalls pencil drawing, or stump
technique, and not painting, which, indeed, would present extraordinary
difficulties on bad paper. It would also show the marks of the brush, which
would have to be used with thick paint, in order to produce a complete covering
up of the half-tone screen pattern.
"If the Wilson portrait from the Miroir, modified by drawing, had been used for
the phenomenon picture shown in Fig. 136, it would show screen marks, while the
technique used for producing the changes would betray itself by a dozen
"It would also be impossible to obliterate the differences between the two
heads, as to their position, their proportions, and the several details of the
"It follows, with absolute certainty, from these considerations, that the
portrait of President Wilson, shown in the Miroir, No. 34, 1912, could not have
been made into the phenomenon picture,
Fig. 136, by any artistic manipulation,
in spite of some striking similarities.
"Munich, 14th January 1914."
"(Signed) HERMANN URBAN
In connection with Professor Urban's Opinion, it should be pointed out that, in
President Wilson's portrait, the tie is tied with a pin, the head of which is
evidently engraved with a coat of arms. This is absent in
Fig. 196, and although
Miss Barkley indicates a slight shading on the latter, which might represent
that object, it is too far on the right-hand side.
The whole of the similarities with the Miroir pictures, of which so much has
been made in the Press, reduce themselves to the following four points:
1. The agreement of certain details of
Fig. 196 with the Wilson portrait.
2. A partial resemblance of the tie marks of
Fig. 194 with the portrait of
3. in the three pimples characteristic of that face, shown in the head of
4. In the occurrence of the letters Miroir.
As no explanation is forthcoming based upon fraudulent manipulation by the
medium, and as it is impossible that either the originals of the Miroir
pictures, or manually altered copies of them, could have been exposed to produce
the photographs in question, we must look for some other explanation, based upon
the origin of the teleplastic creations.
The teleplastic creations are so closely connected with the psychic condition of
the medium that Morselli compared them with materialised dream images. This view
regards the products as ephemeral, externalised precipitates of the medium's
psychic impressions and reminiscences. That the phenomena in many cases realise
the thoughts of the medium may be considered as established. I need only recall
the repeated occurrences of hands as suggested by the sitters, and other
fulfilments of their wishes. Such a process may also account for the projection
of memory images of deceased persons, such as M. Alexandre Bisson and Mme. Bisson's nephew; also the production of an image resembling Leonardo da Vinci's
"Mona Lisa" which was so greatly talked about when it was stolen from the Louvre.
Here, again, we have no slavish replica, but an impressionistic representation
of the style in which the picture was painted. The results of this process,
which may be called ideo-plastics, are closely connected with the storage of
memories, and with the psychic life of the medium, with her intensity of
Optical, or visual, images appear to play the chief part in the case of
Now, it is well known that the clearness of memory may rise to an abnormal level
in the case of hysterical persons (hypermnesia). Thus, some slight event of
youth, or an entirely lost language, can be revived under abnormal conditions,
such as somnambulism or some diseases.
As Offner points out(1), painters like Vernet, Doré, and Makart were able to
paint accurate representations of objects and persons after seeing them once. Of
the philosopher Seneca, it is said that he could recite three thousand words
accurately after hearing them once, and that he could repeat two hundred verses
in the reverse order. A deceased relative of the author was able to reproduce a
speech verbatim which he had once heard ten years before. The sharpness of
memory, in such abnormal cases, is sufficiently illustrated by these examples,
and may be compared to the sharp definition of a photographic plate.
(1) Offner, Gedachtnis, Handbuch der Naturwissenschaften Vol. 4.
The occurrence of cryptomnesia, or the recalling of a former memory image which
had never entered the normal consciousness, is quite an ordinary occurrence with
hypnotised persons and somnambulists. Thus, the important nucleus of a thing, or
the chief points of a picture, can be completely forgotten, while some
unessential detail (in our case, the form and marking of a tie, the position of
three pimples, the shape of a prominent print, and certain lines and types of
face) may be reproduced most accurately, and may occur in a new connection as an
independent psychic performance. This may explain the speaking in foreign
languages (glossolalia). That the cryptomnesic pictures may lead to the most
remarkable and complicated combinations in the trance condition is shown by
Flournoy's studies on the "Martian" language of
Cases have been known, both among painters and musicians, in which cryptomnesic
performances were regarded by the artists as their own independent creations,
although they could be shown to be identical with works of old masters. In
mediumistic phenomena we may have a combination of ideoplastics with
cryptomnesia, and such a combination may account for the observed coincidences
in the case of the Miroir portraits, which were exhibited in nearly all the
newspaper shops in Paris. If we suppose that the medium saw the Miroir number of
17th November 1912 with Wilson's portrait, within a few days of its publication,
and had received a strong optical impression of the title-page. with the word "Miroir"
at the head, and of the features of President Wilson, it is easily understood
that on the 27th November she produced the word "Miroir," and later, on the 9th
January, the type which contained cryptomnesic reminiscences of the tie markings
and collar, and some facial lines from this visual memory. For the production of
a word by the ideoplastic process and that of a picture is the same process of
creation, and the former is only remarkable because it was observed only once in
the course of four years.
In the case of other details, like the three pimples (Fig. 149), it is possible
that an independent teleplastic creation may contain cryptomnesic elements,
which are embodied in it. Such intermixtures are already well known in the
purely psychic region, and have ceased to be wondered at. The literature of
occultism contains a number of parallel cases. Thus, in a sitting held by
with Linda Gazerra, an angel head, by Rubens, was apparently the model for an
Morselli draws attention to, the fact that such forms, in the first instance,
are developed in two dimensions, and therefore show a flat appearance. He says:
"Sometimes they even give the impression of being cut out of cardboard, while in
other cases their margins are undefined." It is only on further development that
stereoplastic forms are produced, consisting of fragments of limbs, hands, arms,
faces, heads, up to the formation of a whole identity. The above considerations
dispose of the objections raised by Miss Barkley, as far as they are concerned
with the possible fraudulent use of the Miroir portraits.
The result of the examination of these objections may be summarised as follows:
1. Even if the alleged agreement between certain portrait heads, reproduced on
the title-pages of the journal Le Miroir, and certain phantom pictures were
greater than it is, yet, in consideration of the experimental conditions of the
sittings, a deception due to the smuggling in of prepared art journals, and
their exposure in the places of the ideo-plastic images, is quite excluded.
2. The alleged similarity of the portraits produced by autotype in the journal
Le Miroir is confined to the single occurrence of the title heading "Miroir" and
the similarity of a few details in the portraits of Presidents Wilson and
Poincaré to those in the phantom pictures of 19th January, 6th March, and 2nd
3. The journal Le Matin published, as a basis of its attack of 26th December
1918, an illustration from the work of Mme. Bisson, which had been manipulated
and retouched by hand, in order to make it resemble President Poineare.
4. Expert opinions are unanimous in saying that, if the author's photographic
conditions are -strictly observed, neither the original pictures from the Miroir,
nor any worked-up copies thereof, could have been exposed at the sittings so as
to produce the author's published photographs.
5. The occurrence of certain details derived from the title-pages of Le Miroir
in the phenomenon of the sittings of 2nd November 1912 and of 19th January, 6th
March, and 2nd May 1913, is explained by the cryptomnesic function of memory,
such as is often observed in the somnambulistic condition. Reminisences of
former visual impressions and fragments of dream images coalesce unconsciously
with the ideoplastic creations to form an unified presentation, which may be so
misinterpreted as to give rise to suspicion.
The above article was taken from Baron von Schrenck Notzing's "Phenomena of
Materialisation" (1920, Kegan Paul, Trench & Co. Ltd, London).