The William Henry Fox Talbot Catalogue Raisonné

Master record for Schaaf no. 2468

An experiment towards the calotype

Attributed to: William Henry Fox Talbot

Created: 22 Sep 1840

Keywords: Experimental

A note typed by Harold White to accompany this image states, "Though the image is lost, this is a very important item. Fox Talbot [sic], in a letter to the Literary Gazette dated 5th Feb. 1841 states that the first discovery of his Calotype Process was made on Sept. 20th 1840. This paper is dated Sept 22nd. 1840. Added in pencil is- "Sept 23 washed with E & brought out by spont.". This may be taken to read 'washed with exciting liquid & [image] brought out spontaneously'. The exciting liquid was the sensitiser containing gallic acid. On the 19th. Feb. he again wrote to the Literary Gazette stating that after making some tests, a blank piece of paper which had been treated was left lying upon a table, and some time later he was surprised to see upon it a very distinct picture. His conclusion was "- that the picture had unexpectedly developed itself by a spontaneous action. This is probably the paper referred to."

For more information see a project blog post which features this image, together with an earlier project blog post dedicated to the Calotype.

Image from the collections of the British Library (usage terms: Public Domain)

Objects within this record