|Dates: ||1792 - 1880|
Encouraged by his mother’s keen interest in natural history, Bell became equally important as an amateur scientist as in his chosen profession of dental surgery. Bell established his practice in London and was appointed professor of zoology at King’s College and lecturer on anatomy at Guy’s Hospital. He held a number of positions in learned societies, always promoting the emerging field of zoology. The first president of the Ray Society, Bell was named president of the Linnean Society in 1859, and by this time his interest in photography had become apparent. Bell explained in the Photographic Journal his special method for handling paper negatives once they had been exposed and developed: “Having completed the waxed-paper negative as usual,” he trimmed the negative a little smaller than a sheet of glass. A starch solution was then used to adhere the negative to the glass and next the paper was varnished. Bell observed that “the negative will now be found to possess a transparency and sharpness such as it had not before, and in the printing the positives will have an intensity and definition far superior to those taken from the unprepared waxed paper.” None of his photographs are known to have survived.
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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