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Photograph (Experimental Photogenic Drawing), by Sir John Herschel, October 13, 1839

Inventory Number: 43358
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, October 13, 1839, made as a hypo fixing experiment or guinea-pig, then used for a bleaching and reviving experiment. The photographic image has been whitened (made to disappear) and then successfully revived. The companion experiment 98244 is paler; a more similar companion is 58012 (without annotataion). The process is related to the invisible writing experiments at about the same time, and to the concept of a latent image, anticipating Talbot's discovery of the latent image by almost a year; but was perhaps more immediately relevant to Herschel's use of bleaching methods in conjunction with hypo fixing in order to achieve cleaner highlights.

Subject: engraving 59552, lady with turban
Technique: contact copy
Format: vertical
Polarity: negative
Orientation: laterally reversed
Quality: poor
Colour: sepia, brown border, plain back
Chemistry: silver based, hypo fixed, afterwards bleached with corrosive sublimate (mercuric chloride) and revived using a secret chemical
Coating: none
Inscription: number, signature, dates, chemical and procedural notes
Paper: normal
Condition: good, top left corner torn off
Purpose: a bleaching and reviving experiment, see above.

For fuller descriptive and historical commentary see narratives.
Primary Inscriptions: '623' and 'JFWH. Oct 13. (HS)2' and added a few days later 'Oct 18 Whitened entirely by CS. then | restored by [... crossed out heavily] ... [4 dots sic]' [corrosive sublimate; the deleted part looks like one word followed by H; 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
Height Width Depth Diameter Unit
132 102 mm


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