Out of the Shadows: Herschel, Talbot and the Invention of Photography
Author(s): Larry J. Schaaf
Year published: 1992
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publisher Location: London
Total Pages: 200
Illustrations: Illustrated in colour and black and white throughout
Out of stock
This book chronicles the invention of an art – and equally, the art of invention. Two men who had long been friends and scientific colleagues became close collaborators on the public announcement of the discovery of photography in 1839. At the beginning of that year, William Henry Fox Talbot had been surprised by the announcement in Paris that Louis Daguerre had invented a photographic process. His subsequent actions, and those of his rival, mirrored the competitive economic race, and the differences in support of science and art, between France and Britain. There was no technical breakthrough to account for the explosive growth of interest and activity. Both the camera and the necessary chemistry had co-existed for some time and this book addresses the question of why rather than how photography was finally invented. Why did Talbot wait so long to reveal a process that he had mastered years earlier? Why did Sir John Herschel, the pre-eminent Victorian scientist, and an accomplished artist, make such fundamental contributions to the process and yet take so few photographs himself? Who or what provided the visual training that allowed Talbot to become the first photographic artist? Larry Schaaf employs hundreds of little-studied letters, notebooks and diaries to illuminate the intellectual and artistic development and relationship of these two men. Much of the story lies in very human concerns; the weather, politics, family pressures and ill health had as much to do with developments as any scientific or artistic concerns. Both men were humanists of diverse interests, both were fellows of the Royal Society, both had strong female role models, and for both science and art were inextricably linked. The remarkable story of this invention is illustrated by more than 100 near-facsimile reproductions in colour and multi-coloured duotones of some of the earliest photographs ever made.
Very good copy in slipcase.