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Photograph (Experimental Photogenic Drawing), by Sir John Herschel, May 25, 1843

Inventory Number: 83690
Object Type:
Persons: Sir John Frederick William Herschel (Photographer)
Date Created: 1843
Accession Number: 1928-71
Brief Description: Experimental photogenic drawing by Sir John Herschel, May 25, 1843. One of the series of 'vapour image' experiments, exposed in low light and achieving a latent image developed by breath or moisture. This example was exposed for seventeen minutes under a setting sun, developed by vapour, and fixed by rochelle salt. Like its companions (66017 and 96216) the image is largely obliterated by a rectangular yellow area as if caused by an adjacent or overlain paper. Whether this is an effect of the 'Vapour Book' (a pad of blotting paper, the outer sheets moist) is not clear.

Subject: engraving, not discernible
Technique: contact copy
Format: inscription horizontal
Polarity: negative
Orientation: not apparent
Quality: image not discernible but some sharp detail at corners
Colour: image very pale purple, overlay yellow, border pale rusty brown xxx
Chemistry: xxxxx, developed by vapour, fixed with rochelle salt (presumably sodium tartrate)
Coating: none
Inscription: date, procedural and chemical notes, number
Paper: xxx
Condition: good
Purpose: a vapour image experiment (see above).

For fuller descriptive and historical commentary see narratives.
Primary Inscriptions: 'May 25. 17m watery setting [sun symbol] gleam 895 | no picture seen - margin hardly made out | then Vapour' and 'Vap', written over an earlier inscription ending 'Fixed with Rochelle Salt'; 'In Vapour Book --[long dash]' [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
104 132 mm


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