History of Science Museum: Collection Database Search

Record Details

Photograph (Experimental Photogenic Drawing), by Sir John Herschel, February 15, 1839

preview image for Photograph (Experimental Photogenic Drawing), by Sir John Herschel, February 15, 1839
Inventory Number: 16953
Object Type:
Persons: Sir John Frederick William Herschel (Photographer)
Date Created: 1839
Accession Number: 1928-71
Brief Description: Experimental photogenic drawing by Sir John Herschel, February 15, 1839, made as a fixing experiment during the earliest phase of his photographic researches. The very distinct line between the two colours suggests a deliberate test of the contrasting effects of potassium ferrocyanide as a fixative, though Herschel's inscription indicates there was also originally an image present. This is the earliest dated use of the word 'photograph' (abbreviated) among Herschel's experiments.

Subject: no visible image
Technique: not apparent
Format: inscription horizontal
Polarity: not apparent
Orientation: not apparent
Quality: no visible image in either segment
Colour: pale blue and yellow, divided approximately in half horizontally by a distinct line, grey stain
Chemistry: silver based, fixed with potassium ferrocyanide
Coating: none
Inscription: signature, date, chemical note
Paper: thin
Condition: good
Purpose: a fixing experiment using potassium ferrocyanide; the two colours achieved and the distinct line between them suggests a deliberate test.

For fuller descriptive and historical commentary see narratives.
Primary Inscriptions: 'J.F.W.H. Photogr. Feb. 15/39. F.P.' [ferrocyanate of potash; in Herschel's hand].
Provenance: Presented by Miss Herschel and Lady Lubbock in 1928. They were the two surviving and youngest children of Sir John Herschel (Francisca and Constance).
Collection Group: Herschel's Photographic Experiments
Material(s): Paper
Dimensions:
Height Width Depth Diameter Unit
78 112 mm

Narratives

Image with multimedia irn 18442Image with multimedia irn 18996

Permalink: http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/object/inv/16953