– Brighton Gazette, 1858
A ‘photogenic drawing’ erroneously attributed to Henry Fox Talbot was recently pulled from a high-profile Sotheby’s auction because the “worlds leading Talbot expert” pronounced that the image may not be Fox Talbot’s and in fact might predate any photograph known to exist. (“An Image is a Mystery for Photo Detectives”, New York Times 4/17/08 p. B1.)
The expert quoted in the article is Dr. Larry Schaaf, an independent photographic historian based in Baltimore, Maryland. Schaaf is the founder and Director of The Correspondence of William Henry Fox Talbot archives http://foxtalbot.dmu.ac.uk and was elected the 2005 Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford University. Schaaf’s books include Out of the Shadows: Herschel, Talbot & the Invention of Photography (Yale University Press); The Photographic Art of William Henry Fox Talbot (Princeton University Press); and In Focus: William Henry Fox Talbot Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum.
According to Dr. Schaaf, “It often surprises people that the inventor of photography on paper, William Henry Fox Talbot, was also the father of photogravure… Equally striking is the fact that Talbot actively worked on photogravure for the last twenty-five years of his life, a span of time more than double that which he devoted to photography itself.”
Photogravure.com is privileged to be able to include in its text section the essay by Dr. Schaaf, “Etchings of Light” written as the introduction to the exhibition catalog, Sun Pictures; Talbot and Photogravure that accompanied an exhibition of the same title at the gallery, Hans Kraus, Jr., in October of 2003. Included in this catalog is a selection of outstanding Fox Talbot photogravures and it alone is an invaluable resource for anyone serious about studying the history of photogravure.
Many thanks to Dr. Schaaf and Hans Kraus, Jr. for allowing the inclusion of this important essay on this site and for their continued support.