National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Image: Irving Penn: Platinum Prints, June 19 - October 2, 2005

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Exhibition Information

William Henry Fox Talbot
British, 1800–1877
Orléans Cathedral, June 1843
salted paper print from paper negative
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Funds from an Anonymous Donor

The father of modern photography, William Henry Fox Talbot invented the negative-positive process, which allows multiple prints to be made from one negative. Despite his scientific background, Talbot immediately recognized the artistic possibilities of photography, as this photograph made on a trip to France indicates. Instead of presenting the entire cathedral, Talbot climbed to the top of one of its towers and took advantage of the camera's ability to frame a detail that was expressive of the larger whole. The photograph merges the delicate stone tracery with the softness characteristic of a salted paper print.

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