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

Inventory Number: 98244
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, September 15, 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 43358 is stronger. 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: very faint
Colour: pale yellowy fawn, yellowy brown border, plain back
Chemistry: silver based, hypo fixed, afterwards bleached with corrosive sublimate (mercuric chloride) and revived using a secret chemical (see 43358)
Coating: none
Inscription: number, date, procedural note
Paper: thin
Condition: good
Purpose: see above.

For fuller descriptive and historical commentary see narratives.
Primary Inscriptions: '542' and 'Sep 15/39' and added a month later 'Oct 18/39 Whitened entirely | then restored' [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
124 99 mm

There are no associated narratives.

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