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Experimental Blue

Photo-Blue : A display of historic cyanotypes


The blueprint was invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842 - the items shown are the actual pieces of paper on which Herschel conducted his photo-chemical experiments and discovered the process which he named the cyanotype. They are contact copies of pictorial engravings (or of experimental negatives made from them). Each paper represents a different chemical experiment, variations of the process including direct-positive images and those with a surprising two-tone effect of blue and green. They are part of a remarkable series of experiments on photographic chemistry which he began in February 1839, only days after the invention of photography was announced, and continued to 1844, in the course of which he investigated a wide range of materials for their photochemical qualities and their potential in practical photography, making a number of important discoveries.

ยท Specimens from Sir John Herschel's experimental photographs, 1842-43; presented to the Museum by his daughters in 1928

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