|Born||14 May 1771|
Etruria, Staffordshire, England
|Died||10 July 1805 34) (aged|
Thomas Wedgwood (14 May 1771 – 10 July 1805) was an English photographer and inventor. He is most widely known as an early experimenter in the field of photography.
He is the first person known to have thought of creating permanent pictures by capturing camera images on material coated with a light-sensitive chemical. His practical experiments yielded only shadow image photograms that were not light-fast, but his conceptual breakthrough and partial success have led some historians to call him "the first photographer".
Thomas Wedgwood was the fifth child of eight born to Josiah Wedgwood and his wife Sarah, nee Wedgwood, his third cousin. His father was the founder of the Wedgwood company. He was an uncle of the English naturalist Charles Darwin, through his sister Susannah Wedgwood who married Robert Darwin.
He was born in Etruria, Staffordshire, now part of the city of Stoke-on-Trent in England.
Wedgwood grew up and was educated at Etruria, and was instilled from his youth with a love for art. He also spent much of his short life associating with painters, sculptors, and poets, to whom he was able to be a patron after he inherited his portion of his father's wealth in 1795.
As a young adult, Wedgwood became interested in the best method of educating children, and spent time studying infants. From his observations, he concluded that most of the information that young brains absorbed came through the eyes, and were thus related to light and images.
Wedgwood never married and had no children. His biographer notes that "neither his extant letters nor family tradition tell us of his caring for any woman outside the circle of his relations" and that he was "strongly attracted" to musical and sensitive young men.
In imperfect health as a child and a chronic invalid as an adult, he died in the county of Dorset at the age of 34.
Wedgwood is the first person reliably documented to have used light-sensitive chemicals to capture silhouette images on durable media such as paper, and the first known to have attempted to photograph the image formed in a camera obscura.
The date of his first experiments in photography is unknown, but he is believed to have indirectly advised James Watt (1736–1819) on the practical details prior to 1800. In a letter that has been variously dated to 1790, 1791 and 1799, Watt wrote to Josiah Wedgwood:
Dear Sir, I thank you for your instructions as to the Silver Pictures, about which, when at home, I will make some experiments...
In his many experiments, possibly with advice on chemistry from his tutor Alexander Chisholm and members of the Lunar Society, Wedgwood used paper and white leather coated with silver nitrate. The leather proved to be more light-sensitive. His primary objective had been to capture real-world scenes with a camera obscura, but those attempts were unsuccessful. He did succeed in using exposure to direct sunlight to capture silhouette images of objects in contact with the treated surface, as well as the shadow images cast by sunlight passing through paintings on glass. In both cases, the sunlit areas rapidly darkened while the areas in shadow did not.
Wedgwood met a young chemist named Humphry Davy (1778–1829) at the Pneumatic Clinic in Bristol, while Wedgwood was there being treated for his ailments. Davy wrote up his friend's work for publication in London's Journal of the Royal Institution (1802), titling it “An Account of a Method of Copying Paintings upon Glass, and of Making Profiles, by the Agency of Light upon Nitrate of Silver, with observations by Humphrey Davy. Invented by T. Wedgwood, Esq.” The paper was published and detailed Wedgwood's procedures and accomplishments, as well as Davy's own variations of them. In 1802 the Royal Institution was not the venerable force it is today and its Journal was:
a little paper printed from time to time to let the subscribers to the infant institution know what was being done ...the 'Journal' did not live beyond a first volume. There is nothing to show that Davy's account was ever read at any meeting; and the print of it would have been read, apparently, if read at all, only by the small circle of members and subscribers to the institution, of whom, we may be pretty sure, only a small minority can have been scientific people.
Nevertheless, the paper of 1802 and Wedgwood's work directly influenced other chemists and scientists delving into the craft of photography, since subsequent research (Batchen, p. 228) has shown it was actually quite widely known about and was mentioned in chemistry textbooks as early as 1803. David Brewster, later a close friend of photography pioneer Henry Fox Talbot, published an account of the paper in the Edinburgh Magazine (Dec 1802). The paper was translated into French, and also printed in Germany in 1811.
Another pioneer, J. B. Reade's work in 1839 was directly influenced by reading of Wedgwood's more rapid results when using leather. Reade tried treating paper with a tanning agent used in making leather and found that after sensitization the paper darkened more rapidly when exposed. Reade's discovery was communicated to Talbot by a friend, as was later proven in a court case over patents.
The account given by Reade of his experiments was entirely retrospective. His recollection was shown to have been in error, made in 1840 and not 1839, drawn from recollections he made in 1851, more than ten years after.
There are two additional points relevant to Reade's erroneous claim: he was discussing the use of Gallic acid with silver nitrate. Silver nitrate is not a halide and unlike the chloride and fluoride of silver it has not the potential to develop the latent image. In addition Reade failed to understand or to make a distinction between tannic acid and gallic acid, referring to either "tincture, infusion of, or a decoction of galls" and gallic acid as though all were interchangeable. Any of these solutions would contain little more than 3% gallic acid, which is relatively slow acting. Tannic acid, on the other hand, which constitutes between 60 and 79% is fast acting. The result being that it would immediately act upon any gelatine present to render it insoluble; hence its use, since time immemorial, to tan leather which is a strategic material (i.e.,for solder's boots, and harness to attach guns to gun-carriages etc.). Talbot would have known of this group of organic compounds and there is evidence that he had experimented with gallic acid (2-3-4 tri-hydronitrobenzoic acid) since 1835 at the latest. First synthesised by Carl William Scheele in 1786 whose studies were widely known (earlier, in fact if you reference his experiments with secret writing).Reade's images darkened quickly because the tannic acid component of the"extract of galls" has the power to spontaneously reduce silver nitrate to its metallic state.
Wedgwood was unable to "fix" his pictures to make them immune to the further effects of light. Unless kept in complete darkness, they would slowly but surely darken all over, eventually destroying the image. As Davy put it in his paper of 1802, the picture,
immediately after being taken, must be kept in some obscure place. It may indeed be examined in the shade, but in this case the exposure should be only for a few minutes; by the light of candles and lamps, as commonly employed, it is not sensibly affected.
Although unfixed, photographs such as Wedgwood made can be preserved indefinitely by storing them in total darkness and protecting them from the harmful effects of prolonged open exposure to the air—for example, by keeping them tightly pressed between the pages of a larger book.
In the middle to late 1830s, both Henry Fox Talbot and Louis Daguerre found ways of chemically stabilizing the images their processes produced, making them relatively insensitive to additional exposure to light. In 1839, John Herschel pointed out his earlier published discovery that hyposulphite of soda (now known as sodium thiosulfate but still nicknamed "hypo") dissolved silver halides. This allowed the remaining light-sensitive silver salts to be completely washed away, truly "fixing" the photograph. Herschel also found that in the case of silver nitrate, a thorough washing with plain water sufficed to remove the unwanted remainder from paper—at least, the type of paper Herschel used—but only if the water was very pure.
In 1885, Samuel Highley, an early photography historian, published an article in which he remarked that he had seen what must have been unfixed examples of early pictures made by Wedgwood, presumably dating to the 1790s. His was only one of several latter 19th century claims alleging the current or former existence of improbably early photographs, usually based on decades-old memories or depending on questionable assumptions, which investigators determined to be unverifiable, unreliable or definitely mistaken.
In 2008, there were widespread news reports that one of Wedgwood's photographs had surfaced and was about to be sold at auction. The photogram, as shadow photographs are now called, showed the silhouette and internal structure of a leaf and was marked in one corner with what appeared to be the letter "W". Originally unattributed, then attributed to Talbot, an essay by Talbot expert Larry Schaaf, included in the auction catalog, rejected that attribution but suggested that it could actually be by Thomas Wedgwood and date from the 1790s.An authentic Wedgwood image would be a key historical relic, avidly sought by collectors and museums, and would probably sell for a seven-figure price at auction. Considerable controversy erupted after the announcement and Schaaf's rationale for such an attribution was vigorously disputed by other respected photography historians. A few days before the scheduled sale, the image was withdrawn so that it could be more completely analyzed.
If any special physical analysis was later done, the findings had not been made public as of mid-2015, when Schaaf presented some new discoveries which apparently solved the major mysteries and laid his unexpectedly sensationalized scholarly speculation to rest. The initial "W", it now seems, is that of William West, an entrepreneur who was selling packets of "photogenic drawing paper" to the public only weeks after instructions for its preparation were unveiled by its inventor, Talbot, early in 1839.The image was probably created that same year by Sarah Anne Bright, a previously unknown amateur.
Wedgwood was a friend of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and arranged for him to have an annuity of £150 in 1798 so Coleridge could devote himself to philosophy and poetry. According to an 1803 letter, Coleridge even attempted to procure cannabis for Wedgwood to alleviate his chronic stomach aches.
Sir Humphry Davy, 1st Baronet, was a British chemist and inventor from Cornwall who invented the Davy lamp and a very early form of arc lamp. He is also remembered for isolating, by using electricity, several elements for the first time: potassium and sodium in 1807 and calcium, strontium, barium, magnesium and boron the following year, as well as for discovering the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine. Davy also studied the forces involved in these separations, inventing the new field of electrochemistry. Davy is also credited to have been the first to discover clathrate hydrates in his lab.
Photography is the art, application, and practice of creating durable images by recording light, either electronically by means of an image sensor, or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film. It is employed in many fields of science, manufacturing, and business, as well as its more direct uses for art, film and video production, recreational purposes, hobby, and mass communication.
The following list comprises significant milestones in the development of photography technology.
Calotype or talbotype is an early photographic process introduced in 1841 by William Henry Fox Talbot, using paper coated with silver iodide. Paper texture effects in calotype photography limit the ability of this early process to record low contrast details and textures. The term calotype comes from the Ancient Greek καλός, "beautiful", and τύπος, "impression".
William Henry Fox Talbot FRS FRSE FRAS was an English scientist, inventor and photography pioneer who invented the salted paper and calotype processes, precursors to photographic processes of the later 19th and 20th centuries. His work, in the 1840s on photomechanical reproduction, led to the creation of the photoglyphic engraving process, the precursor to photogravure. He was the holder of a controversial patent that affected the early development of commercial photography in Britain. He was also a noted photographer who contributed to the development of photography as an artistic medium. He published The Pencil of Nature (1844–46), which was illustrated with original salted paper prints from his calotype negatives, and made some important early photographs of Oxford, Paris, Reading, and York.
Daguerreotype was the first publicly available photographic process; it was widely used during the 1840s and 1850s. "Daguerreotype" also refers to an image created through this process.
The collodion process is an early photographic process. The collodion process, mostly synonymous with the "collodion wet plate process", requires the photographic material to be coated, sensitized, exposed and developed within the span of about fifteen minutes, necessitating a portable darkroom for use in the field. Collodion is normally used in its wet form, but it can also be used in dry form, at the cost of greatly increased exposure time. The increased exposure time made the dry form unsuitable for the usual portraiture work of most professional photographers of the 19th century. The use of the dry form was therefore mostly confined to landscape photography and other special applications where minutes-long exposure times were tolerable.
Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre was a French artist and photographer, recognized for his invention of the eponymous daguerreotype process of photography. He became known as one of the fathers of photography. Though he is most famous for his contributions to photography, he was also an accomplished painter, scenic designer, and a developer of the diorama theatre.
The albumen print, also called albumen silver print, was published in January 1847 by Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard, and was the first commercially exploitable method of producing a photographic print on a paper base from a negative. It used the albumen found in egg whites to bind the photographic chemicals to the paper and became the dominant form of photographic positives from 1855 to the start of the 20th century, with a peak in the 1860–90 period. During the mid-19th century, the carte de visite became one of the more popular uses of the albumen method. In the 19th century, E. & H. T. Anthony & Company were the largest makers and distributors of albumen photographic prints and paper in the United States.
The year 1802 in science and technology involved some significant events, listed below.
An enlarger is a specialized transparency projector used to produce photographic prints from film or glass negatives, or from transparencies.
A photogram is a photographic image made without a camera by placing objects directly onto the surface of a light-sensitive material such as photographic paper and then exposing it to light.
Johann Heinrich Schulze was a German professor and polymath.
Rev. Joseph Bancroft Reade FRS FRMS was an English clergyman, amateur scientist and pioneer of photography. A gentleman scientist, Reade co-founded the Royal Microscopical Society and the Royal Meteorological Society.
The history of photography began in remote antiquity with the discovery of two critical principles: camera obscura image projection and the observation that some substances are visibly altered by exposure to light. There are no artifacts or descriptions that indicate any attempt to capture images with light sensitive materials prior to the 18th century.
Events from the year 1802 in the United Kingdom.
Talbot v Laroche (unreported) was an 1854 legal action, pivotal to the history of photography, by which William Fox Talbot sought to assert that Martin Laroche's use of the unpatented, collodion process infringed his calotype patent.
The salt print was the dominant paper-based photographic process for producing positive prints from 1839 until approximately 1860.
Henry Collen was an English miniature portrait painter to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and the Duchess of Kent. Later in life he turned to photography and was the first professional calotypist in London.
Reade Peak is a peak, 1,060 m, rising 1 mile south of Sonia Point and Flandres Bay, on the northeast coast of Kyiv Peninsula, Graham Land, Antarctica. Mapped by the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS) from photos taken by Hunting Aerosurveys Ltd. in 1956–57. Named by the United Kingdom Antarctic Place-Names Committee (UK-APC) in 1960 for Joseph Bancroft Reade (1801–70), English pioneer of photography, who obtained photographs on paper coated with silver nitrate, developed with gallic acid and fixed with hyposulphate of soda, in 1837.