William Henry Fox Talbot (British, Dorset 1800–1877 Lacock)
Salted paper print from paper negative
Image: 17.5 x 21.1 cm (6 7/8 x 8 5/16 in.)
Sheet: 18.4 x 22.9 cm (7 1/4 x 9 in.)
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2005
Not on view
Talbot, the quintessential gentleman amateur, took on a professional role in the publication of two books illustrated with photographs: "The Pencil of Nature", a general introduction to his invention, and "Sun Pictures in Scotland", a tour of the scenery made popular by the novels of Sir Walter Scott. This well-preserved print of Loch Katrine, perhaps the most interesting of the images in "Sun Pictures", shows Talbot turning a novel feature of photography to artistic advantage. While a sketch may only partially fill a sheet of paper, a photograph is complete from edge to edge from the outset, and though many beginners do not realize it the best photographs are organized according to this principle. Instead of composing his scene conventionally, Talbot here worked with the scene as it appeared on his camera's flat ground glass. In essence, he saw two dark and two light triangles floating on a plane. In his resulting picture the solid and the insubstantial have become equal partners forever poised at the verge of merging.
Inscription: Inscribed in ink, verso BR: "LA35"
[Charles Isaacs]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, November 14, 1991
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Howard Gilman Gallery: Inaugural Installation," October 16, 1997–February 1, 1998.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Framing a Century: Master Photographers, 1840–1940," June 3, 2008–September 1, 2008.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 70," February 8, 2016–June 6, 2016.
Buckland, Gail. Fox Talbot and the invention of photography. London, 1980. pl. 187.
Schaaf, Larry J. The Photographic Art of William Henry Fox Talbot. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000.
According to Schaaf (2000), p. 206:
"A small-camera variant of this image, measuring 8.6 x 10.6 cm, was reproduced as plate 16 of SUN PICTURES IN SCOTLAND."