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|Dates: ||1808 - 1884|
Enrico Van Lint (Pisa, 1808-1884) was a first-rank protagonist in the early days of the calotype in Italy. Before adopting the collodion process, he worked extensively with calotype using the Fox Talbot technique and updated it with the variations introduced by Louis-Désiré Branquart-Évrard (1847) and Gustave Le Gray (1851). He mainly utilized waxed paper for the negatives and treated then with gallic acid solutions in the development phase. From 1853 onward he utilized also the Billotti process.
This important side of the activity of the Pisan photographer has been demonstrated on the basis of documents of his archive, examined and highlighted in the first monograph on his life and works in which are also reproduced many of his calotypes, both landscapes and portraits (G. Fanelli, L’immagine di Pisa nell’opera di Enrico Van Lint pioniere della fotografia, Pagliai Polistampa, Firenze 2004).
Van Lint was aware he was living in a period of intense photographic activity full of experiments with constantly evolving processes and techniques. Between 1850 and 1853 he created more than 300 calotypes (see Fanelli, op.cit., page 23 and note 49); other calotypes are dated 1854 and 1855. He punctiliously recorded, almost always on the back margin of his calotypes, the essential technical data (see ibidem, note 50), i. e. date, process, hour of take, time of exposure, sometimes also light conditions (e. g. “sunless”), or even the type of camera used. The exposure times vary from a minimum of 20 sec. to a maximum of 7 minutes under a good lighting, and from 8 to 18 minutes in a sunless day for the landscapes, up to 35 minutes for an indoor portrait. Among the cameras used are documented a Wehnert model and a Dallmeyer objective (for a self-portrait format visiting card).
The calotypes are full of detail, particularly in the shadows – details often retouched, especially in the sky surfaces, by application of a glued-on masque of black paper or by an ink darkening. His intention, apparently, was achieving a better balance between large bright areas, strong shadows and half-tones.
A remarkable historical interest can be found in the relationship between Van Lint and the archduke Ferdinand IV Hapsburg. The latter, indeed, was initiated to the art of photography by Van Lint, with whom he created a few calotypes.
Van Lint, differently from other pioneers of the calotype in Italy, e. g. John Brampton Philpot, did not use large formats for his calotypes. Those kept in the archive of Van Lint heirs in Genoa vary in format, indeed, from about 8x11 to about 9.5x13, to about 11x15, to about 12x16, to about 19x25 cm. The known formats for his salted-paper prints vary from about 16x22 to about 17x22 , to about 19x24.5 , to about 23x25.5 cm.
Apart from a few portraits of family members, the bulk of the surviving calotypes are views of Pisa. Many of the latter are dedicated to the Lungarni or to the Cathedral square.
Of an exceptional interest is the general panorama of the walled city realized in 1854 from the top of the Guelph tower of the Cittadella, on 4 pieces all in format 9.9x12.2 cm (see Fanelli, op. cit., tav. 1) to be juxtaposed horizontally. Until now this is the first comprehensive photographic panorama of Pisa and one of the rare calotype panoramas of an Italian city.
Courtesy of Giovanni Fanelli (7 Oct 2011)
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