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Photograph (Experimental Photogenic Drawing) of Sir William Herschel's 40-Foot Telescope at Slough, by Sir John Herschel, Autumn 1839

preview image for Photograph (Experimental Photogenic Drawing) of Sir William Herschel's 40-Foot Telescope at Slough, by Sir John Herschel, Autumn 1839
Inventory Number: 85037
Object Type:
Persons: Sir John Frederick William Herschel (Photographer)
Sir William Herschel
Date Created: 1839
Accession Number: 1928-71
Brief Description: Experimental photogenic drawing of the mounting of Sir William Herschel's 40-foot telescope in the garden of Herschel's house at Slough, by Sir John Herschel, undated but autumn 1839, the clearest of the 4 specimens in this collection. The colouring and the clarity of the image are typical of the standard silver nitrate process fixed with hypo. Even so, as a primitive camera image with an exposure of an hour or more, it is little more than a silhouette. The paper has been cut (before exposure) to a slightly broadened circle 98 to 100 mm (approximately 3.8 to 3.9 inches) in diameter.

Subject: Sir William Herschel's 40-foot telescope
Technique: camera-type image, probably (in view of the circular format and the dimensions) made in a telescope tube used as a makeshift camera obscura
Format: circular
Polarity: negative
Orientation: laterally reversed
Quality: good
Colour: sepia, back plain
Chemistry: silver based, hypo fixed
Coating: none
Inscription: none
Paper: ordinary
Condition: good
Purpose: an experiment that tests the conventional photographic chemistry (silver based, probably silver nitrate, and hypo fixed) on a camera image; the other purpose of the series of photographs of the telescope taken in the autumn of 1839 was to record the structure prior to its demolition; they are the only camera images made by Herschel.

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
Dimensions:
Height Width Depth Diameter Unit
98 mm

Narratives

Image with multimedia irn 49489

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