Friday, August 23, 2013

Fox photo

Salt print from a calotype negative entitled "The Geologists, Chudleigh, Devon" by William Henry Fox Talbot c. 1843, in the collection of the National Media Museum, Bradford, U.K.

British inventor William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) made the photograph above using his newly developed calotype process. American archaeologist Suzanne Pilaar Birch has tried to identify whether the woman in the photo is renowned British paleontologist and geologist Mary Anning (1799-1847). Though the woman in the image is often mistaken for the man's wife, or even his mother, the title by Talbot makes clear that they are colleagues. Birch points out that Anning was one of a handful of female geologists active and collaborating with their male counterparts at the time: "Often overlooked, women's contributions were not just in the form of isolated discovery, but also in the cultivation of and participation in rich scientific networks of men and women." But the most gratifying about this story is that the photographer was also a collector!

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