| || |
Henry Fox Talbot
Book cover for William Henry Fox Talbot, 1845, Sun Pictures in Scotland
Sotheby's - New York
Sale: NO9640, Photographs, 5 April 2017, Lot: 34
Published in 1845, William Henry Fox Talbotís Sun Pictures in Scotland is widely recognized as the first photographically illustrated book completed for public sale. Issued between the fourth and fifth installments of Talbotís Pencil of Nature, the edition size of Sun Pictures was quite small. Unlike The Pencil of Nature, it was not available through booksellers but rather through subscription. The list of subscribers comprised approximately 100 names, the first being Queen Victoria.
Sun Pictures in Scotland depicts Talbotís travels through the region in October 1844, inspired by the life and writings of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). The 1830s and 1840s was a period of intense interest in the Scottish poet. The 200-foot-high Scott Monument in Edinburgh was nearly completed when Talbot photographed it, and he included it as the second plate in Sun Pictures.
The uneven quality of the plates in most copies of Sun Pictures is likely due to the unfavorable environmental conditions in which they were made, and many prints likely started deteriorating immediately. According to Talbot scholar Larry J. Schaaf, fewer than 25 copies of Sun Pictures in Scotland are believed extant. Schaaf locates at least nine in institutional collections, including The J. Paul Getty Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The New York Public Library, and The University Library, St. Andrews. Only a handful of copies have appeared at auction since 1970.