|Dates: ||1806, 10 October - 1879|
|Born: ||England, Great Yarmouth|
|Died: ||England, Great Yarmouth|
The British Museum and the Norfolk Heritahe Center both hold examples of his salt prints.
Marcus Potts (pers. Email to Alan Griffiths, 2 January 2019)
I have found no evidence at all for a link with Leeds. He was born in Great Yarmouth on 10th October 1806, the son of Abraham Hunt and Martha (née Howes), and doesn’t seem to have left Norfolk at any time during his life. He had a very successful business as a Linen Draper in Great Yarmouth from c1835-1870, but became seriously involved in early photography from the mid 1840s. He was principally a watercolourist, although also painted in oils, and was an accomplished engraver. He retired at a relatively early age, for the period, and moved to a house near the seafront in Yarmouth. There he was able to concentrate on his art, and became a teacher as well as commercial artist. He died in 1879.
There is the possibility of a confusion of identities here, for the name William Hunt turns up in a variety of photographic contexts. However, it seems most likely that these various personalities all belong to a linen draper from Leeds who enjoyed painting in Great Yarmouth. Washington Teasdale credited him with developing a rice water-based waxed-paper negative process but questioned his use of a common meniscus lens, feeling this hurt the quality of his photographs, while acknowledging Hunt’s “connected series of carefully made experiments on the use of the bromides.” In 1854 a frustratingly unidentified “well-known amateur” wrote to William John Thoms, the editor of Notes and Queries. Looking at his first photograph, made in 1845, the writer praised the contribution of George Smith Cundell, who clarified the operation of the calotype to the amateur, adding: “Mr. William Hunt, of Yarmouth, was my first friend and instructor in the art; and if there be any merit in the pictures I did before I knew you, the credit is due to him entirely.” Some of Hunt’s photographs survive, including in one of Thomas Damant Eaton’s albums.
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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