|Born: Mervyn Herbert Nevil Story-Maskelyne |
Other: M.H. Nevil Story-Maskelyne
Other: Mervyn Herbert Nevil Story Maskelyne
Other: Nevil Story Maskelyne
|Dates: ||1823, 3 September - 1911, 20 May|
English mineralogist and photographer. Educated at Wadham College, Oxford, Maskelyne taught mineralogy and chemistry at Oxford from 1851, before becoming a professor of mineralogy, 1856-95. He was Keeper of Minerals at the British Museum from 1857 to 1880. He was a part of the social circle surrounding Henry Fox Talbot who gave him permission to learn the calotype process and he was taught by Talbot's operator Nicolaas Henneman.
Born into science, Maskelyne was the eldest son of the astronomer royal, Nevil Maskelyne. (Through an inheritance the family became the Story-Maskelynes in 1845.) Maskelyne was born at Basset Down House in Wiltshire, not far from Talbot’s Lacock Abbey. When and how he first came to photography are unrecorded, but as a youth he made photogenic drawings in what he called “My Laboratory,” and as a student at Oxford in the 1840s he was in correspondence with Talbot over matters photographic. The chemist Benjamin Brodie successfully deflected Maskelyne’s original progression toward the law, luring him into a life of chemistry and in the process becoming his first formal teacher of photography. By 1846 Maskelyne had devised his own variation of the calotype based on bromide of silver; this offered additional sensitivity to the green portion of the spectrum, thus rendering foliage more true to nature. His main interest in calotypy, however, seems to have been architectural, and he often recorded the houses of friends and the places that he visited. In support of his lectures, Maskelyne was given a laboratory below the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford in 1850; he used it as much for photography as for mineralogy. He remained an experimentalist, notably developing a method of producing negatives on sheets of mica. Maskelyne married Talbot’s niece Thereza Llewelyn (who became Thereza Mary Dillwyn Story Maskelyne) in 1858, completing a photographic circle, but he never strove to exhibit his photographs publicly. Sharing a love of minerals with his friend John Ruskin, Maskelyne went on to become a member of Parliament and a collector of gems.
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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