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First Photographs:
William Henry Fox Talbot and the Birth of Photography

by Arthur Ollman, Carol McCusker, Michael Gray

ISBN 1576871533 / 9781576871539 / 1-57687-153-3
Publisher powerHouse Books
Language English
Edition Hardcover
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Book summary

First Photographs is an extraordinary view into the origins of photography. This landmark monographthe only book on Talbot to be authored by the Fox Talbot museums curatorincludes many never-before-published images of landscapes, architectural studies, and portraits from Talbots personal archive and selections from his detailed research notebooks made during the 1830s and 1840s and currently housed at Lacock Abbey in Chippenham, England.

A gentleman and an intellectual, Talbot was a great student of the Arts and Sciences and kept detailed notes of his activities and experiments. He discovered the negative/positive paper process which made multiple reproductions of a single image possible, and which distinguished it from its contemporary, the one-of-a-kind daguerreotype. Talbot first announced his invention to the public in 1839 in his paper, An Account Of The Art of Photogenic Drawing Or The Process By Which Natural Objects May Be Made To Delineate Themselves Without The Aid Of The Artists Pencil. The work he did during this time established, in principle and in practice, the foundation of modern photographythe basis of the process that is still used today.

In addition to Talbots technological contributions, his photographs represent exceptional artistic achievement. First Photographs includes a significant text by the preeminent Talbot scholar today, Michael Gray, who provides a comprehensive essay, biography, and timeline of Talbots eventful life and revolutionary work. Arthur Ollman, director of the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, gives an in-depth analysis of the aesthetic and social significance of Talbots first image, Oriel Window. Curator Carol McCusker considers how the Romantic Movement and the women of the Lacock household influenced Talbots aesthetic choices. First Photographs and the accompanying exhibition provide a rare opportunity for contemporary audiences to experience these uncommon images and the personal, cultural, and scientific contexts in which they were made. [via]