William Henry Fox Talbot (British, Dorset 1800–1877 Lacock)
before May 1844
Salted paper print from paper negative
Image: 14.3 x 19.4 cm (5 5/8 x 7 5/8 in. )
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Joseph M. Cohen and Robert Rosenkranz Gifts, 2005
Not on view
Among the most widely admired of Talbot's compositions, The Open Door is a conscious attempt to create a photographic image in accord with the renewed British taste for Dutch genre painting of the seventeenth century. In his commentary in The Pencil of Nature, where this image appeared as plate 6, Talbot wrote, "We have sufficient authority in the Dutch school of art, for taking as subjects of representation scenes of daily and familiar occurrence. A painter's eye will often be arrested where ordinary people see nothing remarkable." With this concept in mind, Talbot turned away from the historic buildings of Lacock Abbey and focused instead on the old stone doorframe and simple wooden door of the stable and on the humble broom, harness, and lantern as vehicles for an essay on light and shadow, interior and exterior, form and texture.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Inscription: Inscribed in pencil, right margin: "X"
Harold White; [Hans P. Kraus, Jr., New York]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, January 21, 1988
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Pencil of Nature," January 24, 1989–April 9, 1989.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," May 25, 1993–July 4, 1993.
Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," August 7, 1993–October 2, 1993.
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," June 19, 1994–September 11, 1994.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Beyond the Edges: An Insider's Look at Early Photographs," October 9, 1998–February 14, 1999.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Framing a Century: Master Photographers, 1840–1940," June 3, 2008–September 1, 2008.
Schaaf, Larry J. Sun Pictures, Catalogue Three: The Harold White Collection of Works by William Henry Fox Talbot. Sun Pictures. New York: Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs, 1987. pl. 62.
Hambourg, Maria Morris, Pierre Apraxine, Malcolm Daniel, Virginia Heckert, and Jeff L. Rosenheim. The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. no. 12.
Schaaf, Larry J. William Henry Fox Talbot Catalogue Raisonné Oxford: Bodleian Libraries, 2017. http://foxtalbot.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/.