23 Aug 2018

Salt and Silver: Early Photography, 1840-1860

Yale Center for British Art

Reviewed by Jan Castro

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) discovered that embedding light-sensitive salts into paper brushed with silver nitrate, then exposing it to light, produced soft, velvety prints in a range of charcoal, sepia, and violet hues. The Yale Center for British Art focuses on forty salt photography practitioners who developed genres used today: still lifes, portraits, landscapes, architecture, and archaeology.

Family portraits, depictions of exotic locals, and archaeology sites in Egypt, Paris, Russia, China, Algeria, and Turkey predominate. Human subjects show a range of social classes and moods. A female Cantinière in a tight-fitting military uniform has a forthright gaze. A child peeks out from the center of a group of three older female relatives who hold her doll.

All but one of more than a hundred prints come from the Wilson Centre for Photography in London. The accompanying book contextualizes this rare, in-depth survey of photography's origins.

Exhibition Salt and Silver: Early Photography, 1840-1860 link
Start date 28 Jun 2018
End date 09 Sep 2018 (17 days ago)
Presenter Yale Center for British Art link
Venue 1080 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, USA map
Image 8. Roger Fenton, Cantinière, 1855, salted paper print from glass plate negative, courtesy of the Wilson Centre for Photography
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