Johnstone’s entry in the 1857 exhibition of the Birmingham Photographic Society was both atypical and revealing. His first four calotypes, of Kenilworth Castle and Tintern Abbey, received particular notice in the catalogue for demonstrating “the permanency of good Photographs having been printed more than 11 years.” This places Johnstone’s start in calotyping at least as far back as the mid-1840s, when he was an active daguerreotypist in Birmingham, but also demonstrates that he was unusually adept at printing. Two of his calotype portraits were included in the Richard Willats album, taken “by his modification of Calotype Process on Paper.” According to Photogram, Johnstone was known among his colleagues as a painstaking worker “who knew that he was always right,” and who took a particular interest in the electro-disposition of metals. In the catalogue for the 1857 exhibition he advertised Johnstone’s Photographic Establishment in Birmingham, stressing that his portraits were “highly finished, Artistic, Permanent, and at Reasonable prices.” Johnstone was also a friend of the London photographer John Mayall.
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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