Salt and Silver 1840 – 1860 Exhibition

Salt Prints c 1840-1860
Yale Center for British Art

Toronto. We often see and hear about the daguerreotype process as it was common and free throughout the world except in England where a licence had to be purchased. This exhibition celebrates the British salt prints of the Fox Talbot process. The narrator of the video, Chitra Ramalingam of the Yale Center for British Art shows a selection of the prints on display (June 28th to September 9th) but doesn’t identify the photographer other than to state some were taken by the earliest woman photographer on record. The video was posted to the BBC web site a couple pf days ago on August 5th.

Take a peek at these salt paper prints. The prints have proven to be very durable since first printed – a tribute to William Henry Fox Talbot’s process which was perfected a couple of years  before the daguerreotype but only announced to the world a few weeks after the daguerreotype on January 31st, 1839.

The Daguerreotype was announced to a startled world on January 6th, 1839. While Talbot’s process is less contrasty and has lower resolution, it mimics the glass-plate and film era with its negatives and contact printed positives – one negative, limitless positive prints. Modern day digital technology creates a positive colour image which can also be printed or electronically reproduced in limitless numbers. And is far easier and faster to capture, develop, and print or duplicate electonically.

Many fine books are available today for further reading. Consider the late Beaumont Newhall  edited Photography: Essays & Images. In  this book Newhall publishes many pivotal documents (translated if necessary). I bought a paperback copy in December, 1980 for $18.50 at W H Smith who have since closed shop in Canada. My thanks to PHSC member Russ Forfar for emailing me about this wonderful exhibition.

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