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Camera lucida

  • Object:

    camera lucida

  • Date:

    ca. 1820s (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    A neutral density filter is used to restrict the amount of light entering through it without changing hue or colour renditions.

  • Credit Line:

    The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A, acquired with the generous assistance of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Art Fund

  • Museum number:

    RPS.3050-2017

  • Gallery location:

    Photography Centre, Room 100, The Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery, case ARCH1

Talbot was the British inventor of photography. In 1834 he discovered how to make and fix images through the action of light and chemistry on paper. These ‘negatives’ could be used to make multiple prints. This revolutionised image making.

Talbot excelled in many fields, including mathematics, optics, botany and chemistry. However, it was his inability to master drawing outdoors that prompted him to experiment with capturing images inside a camera. He published his photographic discoveries and ideas, illustrated with original photographs, in his book The Pencil of Nature. Talbot patented his negative photographic process, which he called the ‘calotype’, in 1841. Later, he pioneered photographic engraving – printing photographs in ink. His processes became the basis of virtually all subsequent photography.

Physical description

A 135° glass prism set in brass with movable lens, mask and neutral density filter.

Date

ca. 1820s (made)

Materials and Techniques

A neutral density filter is used to restrict the amount of light entering through it without changing hue or colour renditions.

Marks and inscriptions

'4148'
Sticker on brass body of object

'1929-429'
In white pen on main body of object.

Dimensions

Height: 35 mm whole object unfolded, Width: 47 mm, Depth: 29 mm whole object folded

Descriptive line

Camera lucida belonging to William Henry Fox Talbot. A 135° glass prism set in brass with a lens, mask and neutral density filter. Would have originally been used with a stand but this is missing.

Labels and date

Photography Centre 2018-20:

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–77)

Talbot was the British inventor of photography. In 1834 he discovered how to make and fix images through the action of light and chemistry on paper. These ‘negatives’ could be used to make multiple prints. This revolutionised image making.

Talbot excelled in many fields, including mathematics, optics, botany and chemistry. However, it was his inability to master drawing outdoors that prompted him to experiment with capturing images inside a camera. He published his photographic discoveries and ideas, illustrated with original photographs, in his book The Pencil of Nature. Talbot patented his negative photographic process, which he called the ‘calotype’, in 1841. Later, he pioneered photographic engraving – printing photographs in ink. His processes became the basis of virtually all subsequent photography.

You can see how calotypes are made in the ‘Dark Tent’ film room in Room 99.

The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A, acquired with the generous assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Art Fund
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Materials

Optical glass; Brass

Categories

Cameras; The Royal Photographic Society

Collection

Royal Photographic Society Collection

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