Festuca Ovina (Fescue Grasses) thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
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Festuca Ovina (Fescue Grasses)

Photograph
1854 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Anna Atkins is credited with being the first woman photographer and the first person to produce a photographically illustrated book. She was already a skilled botanical illustrator when she took up the cyanotype photographic process, invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842. As part of the process, after exposing an object in contact with paper in sunlight for a few minutes, she washed the paper in water, producing a white image on a brilliant cyan (blue) background.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Additional titleBritish and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns (series title)
Materials and techniques
Cyanotype on paper
Brief description
Photograph by Anna Atkins, 'Festuca Ovina (Fescue Grass)', 1854, cyanotype
Physical description
Cyanotype print showing Festuca Ovina (Fescue Grasses). The white detailed outline of the grasses stand out in stark contrast to the bright prussian blue of the background. The title 'Festuca Ovina' is also in white in the bottom left hand of the image.
Dimensions
  • Height: 35cm
  • Width: 24.8cm
Gallery label
  • Photography Centre 2018-20: Anna Atkins (1797–1871) Festuca Ovina (Fescue Grass) 1854 Anna Atkins is credited with being the first woman photographer and the first person to produce a photographically illustrated book. She was already a skilled botanical illustrator when she took up the cyanotype photographic process, invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842. As part of the process, after exposing an object in contact with paper in sunlight for a few minutes, she washed the paper in water, producing a white image on a brilliant cyan (blue) background. Cyanotype Museum no. PH.380-1981
  • Cameraless Photography Anna Atkins (1799–1871) Festuca Ovina (Fescue Grasses) from British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns c.1854 Cyanotype 35 x 24.8 cm Museum no. Ph.380-1981 Atkins was already a skilled technical illustrator by the time she took up the cyanotype photographic process invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842. A sheet of paper was brushed with iron salt solutions and dried in the dark. After exposing an object on the paper in sunlight for a few minutes the paper was washed in water. Oxidation produced a white image on a brilliant blue, or cyan, background.
Subject depicted
Summary
Anna Atkins is credited with being the first woman photographer and the first person to produce a photographically illustrated book. She was already a skilled botanical illustrator when she took up the cyanotype photographic process, invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842. As part of the process, after exposing an object in contact with paper in sunlight for a few minutes, she washed the paper in water, producing a white image on a brilliant cyan (blue) background.
Bibliographic reference
Coe, Brian & Haworth-Booth, Mark. A Guide to Early Photographic Printing Processes. London: The Victoria and Albert Museum in association with Hurtwood Press, 1983.
Collection
Accession number
PH.380-1981

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Record createdNovember 4, 2002
Record URL
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