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Photograph (Experimental Photogenic Drawing, Phytotype), by Sir John Herschel, 1843

Inventory Number: 67508
Object Type:
Persons: Sir John Frederick William Herschel (Photographer)
Date Created: 1843
Accession Number: 1928-71
Brief Description: Experimental photogenic drawing (phytotype) by Sir John Herschel, undated but 1843 (compare 31035), made during his exploration of alternative sensitising agents to silver salts, the most unusual of which were juices extracted from flower petals, producing these 'vegetable photographs'. Crimson poppy was the most successful, though it produced a pale or slate-blue image. this specimen is one of three unusually small examples (see 31035 and 81452).

Subject: small engraving, girl
Technique: direct-positive contact copy
Format: vertical (nearly square)
Polarity: positive
Orientation: laterally reversed
Quality: pale
Colour: pale blue
Chemistry: phytotype, dyed with crimson poppy (compare 81452)
Coating: none
Inscription: none
Paper: unusually small
Condition: good
Purpose: an experiment with the photographic possibilities of light-sensitive dyes extracted from flower petals.

For fuller descriptive and historical commentary see narratives.
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
58 48 mm


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