Articles of Glass

Articles of Glass

1844

William Henry Fox Talbot

(British, 1800-1877)

Salted paper print from calotype negative

Image: 13.2 x 15.1 cm (5 3/16 x 5 15/16 in.); Paper: 18.6 x 23 cm (7 5/16 x 9 1/16 in.); Matted: 40.6 x 50.8 cm (16 x 20 in.)

Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1992.121

Description

Pursuing such diverse interests as language, mathematics, botany, and optics, William Henry Fox Talbot was a prominent scholar and scientist. In 1839, he invented the first system of positiive and negative photography---the calotype process. The basis of all modern photography, the calotype's paper negative made possible the infinite reproduction of prints from a single negative. In Articles of Glass, three rows of sparkling glass objects are isolated against a dark background, illustrating the new medium's ability to capture the nuances of light and record reality. A remarkable technical and aesthetic achievement, the image testifies to Talbot's artistry and classical sensibilities, expressed through his use of symmetry and a central focus. This image was included in Talbot's The Pencil of Nature (1844), one of the first books illustrated with actual photographic prints.

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