Articles of Glass

William Henry Fox Talbot British

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 852

Talbot's negative-positive photographic process, first made public in 1839, would change the dissemination of knowledge as had no other invention since movable type. To demonstrate the paper photograph's potential for widespread distribution - its chief advantage over the contemporaneous French daguerreotype - Talbot produced The Pencil of Nature, the first commercially published book illustrated with photographs. With extraordinary prescience, Talbot's images and brief texts proposed a wide array of applications for the medium, including portraiture, reproduction of paintings, sculptures, and manuscripts, travel views, visual inventories, scientific records, and essays in art.
This photograph and the plate preceding it, "Articles of China," were offered as examples of photography's usefulness as a tool for creating visual inventories of unprecedented accuracy. Talbot wrote: "The articles presented on this plate are numerous: but, however numerous the objects - however complicated the arrangement - the Camera depicts them all at once."

Articles of Glass, William Henry Fox Talbot (British, Dorset 1800–1877 Lacock), Salted paper print from paper negative

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