|Dates: ||1821, 2 May - 1907|
Monson was a land surveyor in Northamptonshire when photography captured his interest. He became a master of the daguerreotype and contributed a number of papers to the Journal of the Photographic Society, outlining his experiences with that process. Monson was versatile, however, realizing that the metal plates were limiting, and acknowledged the value of paper photography. When the Northamptonshire Photographic Society held its first exhibition in 1856, he contributed not only examples of daguerreotypes and collodion photographs but also work from waxed-paper negatives. He had called on his younger brother, Charles (b. 1831), a portrait painter, to assist, exhibiting what the Norfolk papers called “some portraits of a large size in which photography lays the foundation on which the artist works his colours. These were painted very effectively in oil by Mr Monson’s brother, who is an artist of talent.” In order to allow the viewers to compare the results, some “untouched positives from waxed paper were also exhibited by way of comparison.” There is no evidence that Charles Monson took any paper photographs, but in the 1861 census Edward listed himself as a “Photographic Artist” and Charles called himself an “Artist & Photographer.” By 1871 Edward had returned to civil engineering, but Charles continued as an artist and in the 1891 census listed himself a “Portrait Painter & Photographer.”
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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