William Henry Fox Talbot (British, Dorset 1800–1877 Lacock)
June 21, 1843
Salted paper print from paper negative
16.3 x 20.2 cm. (6 7/16 x 7 15/16 in.)
Purchase, Barbara Schwartz Gift, in memory of Eugene M. Schwartz, and Rogers Fund, 1996
Not on view
In 1840 Talbot devised a negative/positive process that allowed multiple prints of a single image--the procedural basis of nearly all photography since. Talbot's negatives were made of thin writing paper; the fibrous texture obscured some detail, but it imparted softness and a graded tonality to the resulting print. This photograph, showing the upper levels of one tower of Orléans Cathedral, was made on June 7, 1843, when Talbot was en route to Paris to sell the French rights to his patented process. Because he was unsuccessful in this enterprise, the French did not make paper photographs for another decade.
Inscription: Inscribed in pencil on verso, BLC: "#1969"; inscribed in ink on verso, BRC: "LA 784"
Anthony Burnett Brown (Lacock Abbey); Hans P. Kraus, Jr., New York; Sean Thackeray, San Francisco; Jill Quasha, New York (1989); Barbara and Eugene Schwartz, New York
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 12," March 11, 1996–June 3, 1996.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Framing a Century: Master Photographers, 1840–1940," June 3, 2008–September 1, 2008.
Schaaf, Larry J. Out of the Shadows: Herschel, Talbot, & the Invention of Photography. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992. fig. 86.
Other prints of this image exist at: Museum of Photography, Film, and Television, Bradford; Science Museum, London; Getty; Agfa Foto Historama, Cologne; Gernsheim Collection, Austin; Eastman House, Rochester; Art Institute of Chicago; LaSalle Bank Collection, Chicago.