ISBN is

978-0-691-05000-3 / 9780691050003

The Photographic Art of William Henry Fox Talbot

by

Publisher:Princeton University Press

Edition:Hardcover

Language:English

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About the book:

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) is best remembered as the scientist who invented photography. Others had tried recording the images projected by a lens, but Talbot was the first to grasp the physical basis for realizing this dream and to conceive of a practical means for fixing these ephemeral images permanently onto a sheet of paper. But Talbot's considerable technical achievements have often overshadowed his growth as an artist. Larry Schaaf examines this artistic growth by bringing together for the first time high quality reproductions of one hundred photographs representing the full sweep of Talbot's work. These beautiful images are not only records of scientific triumphs, but also the evidence of the first steps in shaping a totally new type of vision.

A classicist, physicist, and mathematician by training, Talbot originally viewed his new invention as a means of visual documentation, particularly of the botanical specimens he loved so dearly. But gradually his new technology taught him to see, and the growth of Talbot's personal vision defined the beginnings of modern photography. The resulting corpus of work ranged from seminal early images rich in primal beauty to later, fully sophisticated photographs. Illuminating these images with excerpts from Talbot's own writings and those of his contemporaries, this book is a visual celebration of the early days of photography.

The one hundred plates are reproduced in the actual size of the originals and in all the subtle colors that comprised Talbot's early work. They range from Talbot's Lilliputian pre-1839 negatives (made in "mousetrap" cameras) through botanical photograms to mid-1840s calotypes that demonstrate a sure command of the new art. Each plate is discussed in detail, drawing on important new research conducted by the author.

Published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Talbot's birth, The Photographic Art of William Henry Fox Talbot will not only deepen our understanding of early photography but will also serve as an important archive for those who may never have the pleasure to witness firsthand these rare and fragile works. As such, this beautifully produced book is an essential addition to the library of anyone who collects, studies, and admires photography.

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