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Record Details

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

Inventory Number: 81452
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.

Subject: small engraving, unclear (the companions 31035 and 67508 are small engravings of girls)
Technique: direct-positive contact copy
Format: vertical (nearly square)
Polarity: positive
Orientation: laterally reversed
Quality: image present but pale and unclear
Colour: pale blue
Chemistry: phytotype, dyed with crimson poppy
Coating: none
Inscription: chemical note
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.
Primary Inscriptions: 'Crimson Poppy Highga[cut away]' [?Highgate, the source of the poppies; 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
55 47 mm


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