Reference numberAP/23/19
TitleSome account of Photogenic Drawing or, the process of which Natural Objects may be made to delineate themselves, without the aid of the Artist's Pencil by Henry Fox Talbot Esq. FRS
DescriptionPaper by Henry Fox Talbot. Received 28 January 1839. Read 31 January 1839.
Describes how in sping 1834 he bagan to put in practice a method he had devised some time previously, for employing 'to purposes of utility the very curious property which has been long known to chemists to be possessed by the nitrate of silver: namely its discoloration when exposed to the violet rays of light. This property appeared to me to be perhaps capable of useful application in the following manner.

I proposed to spread on a sheet of paper a a sufficient quantity of the nitrate of silver; and then to set the paper in the sunshine, having first placed before it some object casting a well defined shadow. The light, acting on the rest of the paper would naturally blacken it, while the parts in shadow would retain their whiteness.

Thus I expected that a kind of image or picture would be produced, resembling to a certain degree the object from which it was derived.

I expected however also, that it would be necessary to preserve such images in a portfolio, and to view them only by candlelight: because, if by daylilght, the same natural process which formed the images, would destroy them, by blackening the rest of the papers.

Such was my leading idea, before it was enlarged and corrected by experience.

It was not until some time after, and when I was in possession of several novel and curious results, that I thought of enquiring whether this process had been ever proposed or atempted before?

I found that in fact it had: but apparently not followed up to any extent, or with much perseverance. The few notices that I have been able to meet with, are vague and unsatisfactory; merely stating that such a method exists of obtaining the outline of an object, but not going into the details respecting the best and most advantageous manner of proceeding.

The only definite account of the matter which I have been able to meet with, is contained in the first volume of the Journal of the Royal Institution page 170 from which it appears that the idea was originally started by Mr Wedgewood, and a numerous series of excperiments made both by him and Sir Humphrey Davy, which however ended in failure.'
Extent32 sides
Access statusOpen
Related records in the catalogueMC/3/5
Fellows associated with this archive
NA5837Talbot; William Henry Fox (1800 - 1877)1800 - 1877
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