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First Photographs: William Henry Fox Talbot and the Birth of Photography 
 
  
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Product Details 
  
 
Hardcover 
144 pages 
powerHouse Books 
Published 2003 
  
From Publishers Weekly 
  
While the invention of photography can be attributed to more than one person, British polymath William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) is credited with inventing the negative/positive paper process that remains the basis for non-digital photography. Furthermore, his actual shots remain stunning. Gray (director of the Fox Talbot Museum at the Talbot's former Lacock Abbey home in Chippenham, England), along with Ollman and McCusker of San Diego's Museum of Photographic Arts, have grouped these early photos by subject matter: sections include "The Domestic World of Lacock Abbey" and "Men of Science and the Reading Establishment." Essays by all three editors, a chronology and a biography give a sense of how they happened. McCusker, in her revealing introductory essay, labels Talbot a "Recorder and Romantic."In Talbot's work-portraits of fruit sellers, ladies in multiple soft layers, chinaware, a haunting kitchen windowsill-she finds that any stereotypical associations or cliches "are confounded by [Talbot's] immersion in and preoccupation with perception, and the Romantic's pursuit of subjective expression." Large, grainy, red-, yellow- or blue-hued images transform a formal silver service (part of the "Breakfast Table" photos), while various shots of mysterious Parisian boulevards, eerie images of delicate lace and leaves of mimosa and fennel bring to mind the intense poetry of Baudelaire or (for the nature shots) Gerard Manley Hopkins. Portraits of local men and farm workers are startlingly unaffected and well composed. Printed on a beautiful, pale yellow stock, Talbot's photographs feel neither modern or archaic, but timeless. While there are plenty of other collections of his work, this one perhaps best captures the spirit with which he made it.  
  
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.  
  
 
  
About the Author 
  
Michael Gray is the Director of the Fox Talbot Museum in Locock Abbey, as well as the Scientific Director of Ikons Centre Imaging Project at the University of Pordenone, Italy. Gray is an internationally recognized scholar and curator in the photographic arts, as well as a master printer of early processes. Gray and his wife Barbara reproduce modern photographs from early paper and glass negatives, evident in his contribution to The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition... read more  
  
 
  
Book Description 
  
First Photographs is an extraordinary view into the origins of photography. This landmark monograph - the only book on Talbot to be authored by the Fox Talbot museum's curator - includes many never-before-published images of landscapes, architectural studies, and portraits from Talbot's 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 Artist's Pencil." The work he did during this time established in principle and in practice the foundation of modern photography - the basis of the process that is still used today. In addition to Talbot's 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 Talbot's 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 Talbot's first image, the "Oriel Window." Curator Carol M
 
  
 
  

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