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William Henry Fox Talbot (1800 - 1877)

Lot 14: WILLIAM HENRY FOX TALBOT

Christie's

May 18, 2005
London, United Kingdom

More About this Item


Description

The Three Graces, 1840s
varnished salt print from calotype negative
5 3/4 x 4 3/4 in. (14.6 x 12.2cm.)

Artist or Maker

WILLIAM HENRY FOX TALBOT

Literature

M. Gray, Fox Talbot, Milan, 1998, pl.23; G. Buckland, Fox Talbot and the Invention of Photography, London, 1980, p.166, for a variant.

Provenance

As lot 13.

Notes

THE PROPERTY OF A DESCENDANT OF ROBERT MURRAY

Probably Schaaf 1834, 1844 or 1845. According to Larry J. Schaaf, at least 27 distinct images of the Three Graces exist and whether these were taken by Talbot, Henneman or both together is unclear.

Early practitioners of photography, including Daguerre and Talbot, found static subjects such as sculptures and statues ideal for their photographic experiments. In a letter of 1843 to Sir Charles Fellows, an archaeologist, Talbot proclaimed, "Nothing excels the photographic method in its power of delineating such objects...as ruins, statues, basreliefs &c." 1 In part 1 of his seminal 1844-46 publication The Pencil of Nature, he recorded the varying ways in which sculptures and statues can be captured by a camera:

These delineations are susceptible of an almost unlimited variety: since in the first place, a statue may be placed in any position with regard to the sun, either directly opposite to it, or at any angle: the directness or obliquity of the illumination causing of course an immense difference in the effect. And when a choice has been made of the direction in which the sun's rays shall fall, the statue may be then turned round on its pedestal, which produces a second set of variations no less considerable than the first. 2

In the early history of the medium, Talbot's processes were unrivalled in creating accurate and multiple reproductions of works of art -- a fashionable 19th century area of collecting -- for which he found public demand.

The William Henry Fox Talbot Trust holds a waxed negative, which shows more of the tablecloth along the bottom edge, and a print.

1 L.J. Schaaf, The Correspondence of William Henry Fox Talbot, University of Glasgow, http://www.foxtalbot.arts.gla.ac.uk, document 04799.

2 See lot 1.

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

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Christie's
May 18, 2005, 12:00 AM EST

London, United Kingdom