Murray’s connection with photography was significant but is at present documented only by a single letter of 1856 published in Photographic Notes. Writing from Drogheda, a port town outside Dublin, Murray was “just starting to the North on a photographic tour.” His letter concerned the proper paper for calotype, and he was “glad to be able to add my testimony, as well as that of my partner, to the goodness of Hollingworth’s paper. We can speak from our own experience as well as that of several of our customers who have shown us their results on paper bought from us.” Murray related that he started calotypy as an amateur, following George Smith Cundell’s 1844 directions. In common with many amateur photographers, Murray gave up calotype when the supply of suitable papers dried up, noting that those papers “would never have come into such general use if good Talbotype paper had been procurable.” In 1856 Murray had on hand papers that he had prepared in 1849 and 1850 still in usable condition. With the Hollingworth’s paper, Murray judged his results as good as any on waxed paper, with less trouble and expense. He expressed the hope that with newer papers “the Talbotype process, or some modification of it, will obtain that attention it so well deserves.” No further communications from Murray have been traced. The initials “J. M.” are clearly printed under the text of his letter. If it were not for the initials, one would be tempted to think that the author was Robert Murray, the London-based Irish chemist, who entered into the partnership of the photographic suppliers Murray & Heath in 1855 and who died suddenly in 1857.
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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