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Record Details

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

Inventory Number: 32043
Object Type:
Persons: Sir John Frederick William Herschel (Photographer)
Date Created:
Accession Number: 1928-71
Brief Description: Experimental photogenic drawing by Sir John Herschel, undated but 1839. An unusual specimen, the dark and variegated colouring perhaps suggesting that it has not been fixed at all. There is either no visible image or the very indistinct remnant of one, though the many markings, streaks, and other effects can suggest various interpretations which are probably illusory (such as the indistinct image of a man, as if in a camera image). Evidence of a border suggests it is a copy of an engraving, though again the buff fading and vignetting around the edges is mostly a chemical effect. The larger linear and angular features are presumably caused by proximity to other papers.

Subject: ?engraving, ?no image
Technique: not apparent
Format: not apparent
Polarity: not apparent
Orientation: not apparent
Quality: no visible image, or barely discernible ambiguous effects implying a very indistinct image (see above)
Colour: dark coppery to pinkish brown, white and pink speckles and small blotches, greenish buff around edges, dark olive green and khaki back
Chemistry: not apparent, presumably silver based, probably unfixed
Coating: none
Inscription: none
Paper: heavy and stiff/card, larger than usual
Condition: good
Purpose: not known, the unusual colouring suggests a variant sensitising chemistry, the linear marks perhaps a procedural variation.

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
173 116 mm


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