Fireworks prints”, says UCL lecturer Simon Werrett, “became something of a genre in their own right, and were made by artists across Europe for several hundred years. They are interesting because of the diverse ways they represented very fleeting episodes, playing with time, space, and visual techniques to commemorate pyrotechnic dramas.” This was popular between the 16th and 18th centuries.
Although it might be imagined as most likely that the images were created after the event, recording the spectacle, in reality prints were made before the event, as Werrett says, “..an anticipation of its being remembered.” And being remembered as perfect.
This perfect version of the display might not have been a true record of what took place as sometimes the fireworks went wrong, there were accidents and mistakes, but the idealised memorabilia, printed on paper or silk, were given as gifts.
Simon Werrett teaches the history of science in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College London. Before joining UCL he was an associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Washington. He is the author of Fireworks: Pyrotechnic Arts and Sciences in European History (University of Chicago Press, 2010).
http://publicdomainreview.org/2014/06/25/picturing-pyrotechnics/ (Accessed 11 October 2016)