Papaver Orientale

Photograph
1852-1854 (made)
Papaver Orientale thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

As a botanist and early photographer, Anna Atkins quickly realised the benefit of using the cyanotype process to record specimens of plant life, such as this poppy. Cyanotype was invented by the astronomer Sir John Herschel in 1842. The following year, Atkins became the first person to print and publish a photographically illustrated book, British Algae, Cyanotype Impressions, part 1. To make a ‘photogram’ with the cyanotype process, the photographer laid an object on paper impregnated with iron salts, then exposed the paper to sunlight for a few minutes. When washed in water, the area where the plant had blocked the light remained white, but the area that was exposed came out a rich blue.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitlePoppy, from Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns (1854) (generic title)
Materials and Techniques
Cyanotype
Brief Description
Cyanotype print of a poppy.
Physical Description
Blue and white photographic image (photogram) of a poppy
Dimensions
  • Height: 35cm
  • Width: 24.2cm
Gallery Label
Cameraless Photography Anna Atkins (1797–1871) Papaver Orientale from British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns c.1854 Cyanotype 35 x 24.8 cm Museum no. PH.381-1981 At the time of its invention, the cyanotype process was little used, except for printing ‘photograms’, like this example. From the 1880s it was used for copying engineering and architectural drawings, giving rise to the term ‘blueprint.’
Object history
One of 160 plates removed in 1981 from a unique album, Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants, inscribed by the artist in 1854 as a gift to her family friend and collaborator, Anne Dixon, second cousin of the novelist Jane Austen. Provenance: The artist; Anne Dixon; Sotheby's Belgravia, London, October 28, 1981
Subjects depicted
Summary
As a botanist and early photographer, Anna Atkins quickly realised the benefit of using the cyanotype process to record specimens of plant life, such as this poppy. Cyanotype was invented by the astronomer Sir John Herschel in 1842. The following year, Atkins became the first person to print and publish a photographically illustrated book, British Algae, Cyanotype Impressions, part 1. To make a ‘photogram’ with the cyanotype process, the photographer laid an object on paper impregnated with iron salts, then exposed the paper to sunlight for a few minutes. When washed in water, the area where the plant had blocked the light remained white, but the area that was exposed came out a rich blue.
Collection
Accession Number
PH.381-1981

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record createdFebruary 6, 2004
Record URL