Frustrated with his inability to draw while in Italy, William Henry Fox Talbot conceived of the art of photography in 1833. He achieved his first successes at his Wiltshire home of Lacock Abbey by the following spring but delayed announcing his achievement to the public until 1839. Photography was thus born into an era propelled by rapid industrialisation and buffeted by great social upheavals. It both preserved the past and predicted the future.
In 2006, the descendants of William Henry Fox Talbot made an extraordinary donation to the British Library. The inventor of photography had started his own archive at the age of eight. Included in this donation were hundreds of notebooks, thousands of letters and many crucial examples of his early photographs. This collection provides an unusually rich and comprehensive resource for studying both the invention of photography and its context in the Victorian era.
Drawing on these resources, this illustrated talk by Larry J. Schaaf will explore the invention and early progress of the art of photography through the eyes of Talbot himself. The art and the artist advanced together.
World expert on early photography Larry J. Schaaf is the author of many books, including The Photographic Art of William Henry Fox Talbot.
For more information on the corresponding exhibition 'Points of View: Capturing the 19th Century in Photographs', visit www.bl.uk/pointsofview
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