William Henry Fox Talbot (English, 1800–1877) "Lace," early 1840s, salted paper print from a photogenic drawing negative, 8 15/16 x 7 3/8 in. (22.7 x 18.7 cm) image; 9 x 7 7/16 in. (22.9 x 18.8 cm) sheet
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Purchased with funds provided by The William Talbott Hillman Foundation. 2017.2.1

CMOA Acquires Important Photographs by William Henry Fox Talbot

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Jonathan Gaugler | gauglerj@cmoa.org | 412.688.8690 / 412.216.7909

Exhibition, Publication coming in November 2017

Pittsburgh, PA…Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) announces the acquisition of five photographs from the dawn of the medium. These images were created by William Henry Fox Talbot, and join an exhibition of this pioneering inventor’s work, opening November 18.

William Henry Fox Talbot (English, 1800–1877)
Lace, early 1840s
salted paper print from a photogenic drawing negative
8 15/16 x 7 3/8 in. (22.7 x 18.7 cm) image; 9 x 7 7/16 in. (22.9 x 18.8 cm) sheet
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Purchased with funds provided by The William Talbott Hillman Foundation. 2017.2.1

Talbot made many photographs of lace because its delicate, geometric patterns highlighted the potential of this new medium to faithfully reproduce complex designs. Though his interest here lies in the documentary possibilities of photography, Talbot also understood its potential to beautifully frame and describe lace’s intricate detail. Photographs like these would help revolutionize and industrialize the lace-making trade.

lace

Articles of China, 1844
salted paper print from a calotype negative
5 ½ x 7 1/8 in. (14.0 x 18.2 cm) image; 7 3/8 x 8 ¾ in. (18.7 x 22.2 cm) sheet
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Purchased with funds provided by The William Talbott Hillman Foundation. 2017.2.2

The desire to order and structure our environment is a deep-seated human instinct. Talbot’s balanced, pleasingly composed arrangement speaks to this. He also recognized a new, evidentiary function of photography, “And should a thief afterwards purloin the treasures—if the mute testimony of the picture were to be produced against him in court—it would certainly be evidence of a novel kind.” Insurance claims were made eminently easier with Talbot’s invention.

 

Portrait of Venus, early 1840s
salt print from a calotype negative
3 7/8 × 3 in. (9.9 × 7.5 cm)
Carnegie Museum of Art, Gift of William T. Hillman, 2017.30.1

Marble bust of a woman, facing sideways from viewer. Her hair is swept up in a bun

A Barouche Parked in the North Courtyard of Lacock Abbey, April 1844
Salted paper print from a calotype negative
5 7/8 × 7 in. (15.2 × 17.9 cm) image; 6 × 7 1/8 in. (15.5 × 18.2 cm) sheet
Carnegie Museum of Art, Gift of William T. Hillman, 2017.30.2

Bust of Patroclus, August 9, 1842
salt print from a calotype negative
5 1/8 × 5 in. (13.8 × 12.9 cm) image; 9 × 7 1/2 in. (23.1 × 19.1 cm) sheet
Carnegie Museum of Art, Gift of William T. Hillman, 2017.30.3

 

Upcoming Exhibition

William Henry Fox Talbot and the Promise of Photography
November 18, 2017–February 11, 2018
Gallery One, Carnegie Museum of Art

Featuring more than 30 works by William Henry Fox Talbot (English, 1800–1877) and his circle from its own collection and from important public and private lenders, CMOA presents the largest US exhibition of Talbot’s photography in the last 15 years. A true “gentleman scientist” of the Victorian period, Talbot combined his knowledge of chemistry, mathematics, and optics, with his interest in art, botany, classics, and foreign languages to invent the paper-based photography that dominated the field for most of the 19th and 20th centuries. Due to the fragile nature of the photographs, exhibitions of Talbot’s work are rare. This represents the first time ever that any will be on view in Pittsburgh.

Exhibition Catalogue
The exhibition will be accompanied by a beautiful, small-format book that serves as a primer on the work of William Henry Fox Talbot, featuring an introductory essay by curator Dan Leers and thematic groupings elucidated by noted Talbot scholar Larry Schaaf. With its luminous reproductions of Talbot’s fragile works, this publication demonstrates that early photography required a form of magic-making and innovation that continues to inspire people today.

Dan Leers, with contributions by Larry J. Schaaf
William Henry Fox Talbot and the Promise of Photography
10 x 8 3/8 in.; Hardcover; 96 pages; 50 illustrations
Retail price: $25
Published by Carnegie Museum of Art

Available October 2017 from D.A.P./Artbook and the CMOA Store

William Henry Fox Talbot and the Promise of Photography is organized by Dan Leers, curator of photography at Carnegie Museum of Art.

Please visit press.cmoa.org for a selection of high-resolution images from the exhibition.

Support
Support for the exhibition is generously provided by the William Talbott Hillman Foundation.

General operating support for Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Carnegie Museum of Art
Carnegie Museum of Art enriches people’s lives through art. The museum is committed to global engagement and regional advancement. We champion creativity and its importance to society with experiences that welcome, inspire, challenge, and inform. Our core activities—collecting, conserving, presenting, and interpreting works of art—make those experiences possible. Our world-class collection of over 30,000 works emphasizes art, architecture, photography, and design from the 19th century to the present. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. Learn more: call 412.622.3131 or visit cmoa.org.

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