|Dates: ||1795 - 1867|
The professor of botany, chemistry, and rural economy at Oxford, Dr. Daubeny was, according to The History of the Daubeney Family, “very clever with his head but awkward with his hands,” the latter perhaps not the most promising attribute for a photographer. Nevertheless, he took an immediate interest in the scientific possibilities of photography. Daubeny was a cofounder of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, the annual meeting of amateur scientists that would provide such an important forum for photography in its earliest days. By the time the association met in August 1839, Daubeny had already invented a self-registering photometer, using photogenic paper to measure solar output. Talbot presented his second and largest exhibition of photography at this 1839 meeting, and subsequently he and Daubeny became friends. Thereafter Talbot visited the professor often at Oxford, photographing the laboratory in the Botanic Gardens, a facility built on the ancient Physic Garden that Daubeny had only recently persuaded the reluctant dons at Magdalen to accept. In 1842 Talbot sent him examples of his work to show during the professor’s chemistry lectures. A great traveler who was widely known in scientific circles, Daubeny undoubtedly did much to promote photography, even if it was not an art he practiced very often himself.
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007)
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission.
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012.
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