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Drawing of Fir Trees (Used for Copying) from the Photographic Experiments of Sir John Herschel, c.1839

Inventory Number: 83403
Object Type:
Persons: Sir John Frederick William Herschel (Artist)
Date Created:
Accession Number: 1928-71
Brief Description: Drawng of fir trees, presumably by Sir John Herschel himself, undated but c.1839. Drawn or painted in white on a black ground, with pencil retouching which appears silvery by reflected light but solid black by transmitted light. It was intended as a test piece for contact copying, and is unique among Herschel's non-photographic test images both in having been deliberately made for that purpose, and in being a negative (the sky black and the trees white). It was thus made in connection with the 1839 experiments in achieving positive photographic images. In spite of its dense appearance, it is sufficiently translucent, and the retouching proves that this was its purpose; however, no photographic copies of it have been recognised.
It was loose among the photographic experiments (rather than associated with a group or packet), though Schultze's description might imply that it was folded in the note paper (44202) along with Herschel's manuscript notes. It is one of only two original drawings found among Herschel's photographic experiments, the other being a more convention ink and wash drawing of a Greek temple (11888).
Primary Inscriptions:
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
75 89 mm


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