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Summer is here, which means the days lengthen while the Talbot project blogs shorten. This, the first of the season’s “Summer Pleasures” has fallen to me, and I don’t mind telling you, the shorter format can be a bitter sweet experience for the author. Which Talbot photograph to write about this time, and what has it to do with the summer?

I was turning the question over in my mind while updating some records on the project website. All the while, keeping an eye out for an appealing image that sparked some sunny association. As you all know, the Talbot website is a work in progress. Not only are we adding new images all the time, we’re also improving the data at every opportunity. I find that some of the simplest descriptive titles among Talbot’s oeuvre are often the most appealing. Consider, “A Leaf”. I love that as a title. Sometimes it has been expanded a little to, “A Leaf of a Tree” or “A Leaf of a Plant”. The plurals also have a certain poetry.

Recently I felt it was time to send a list of images with a botanical theme to our expert in the field, Dr. Stephen Harris. Stephen has already identified many of the plants from which Talbot took flowers and leaves so that they could be pressed into use for the making of photograms.

 

 

One of those leafs on the recent long list for Stephen to identify came back with the suggested title, “Lower surface of a cherry leaf (Prunus sp.; Rosaceae)”. How sweet, I thought. Especially so, as just yesterday evening I had treated myself to my first bag of cherries of the year. I rarely buy cherries to eat on my own. I don’t know why, but I associate them with friends, to be shared. So, I felt a little guilty to have eaten yesterday’s cherries on my own. But I think my friends will forgive me, just this once. Maybe we should rename the “Summer Pleasures” to, “Guilty Summer Pleasures”.

 

Brian Liddy

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• Questions or Comments? Brian Liddy can be reached at brian.liddy@bodleian.ox.ac.uk • WHFT, Leaf, undated paper negative, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; 2005.100.841; Schaaf 1166. • Our thanks to Dr Stephen Harris for taking the time to identify Talbot’s plant specimens.