Photogenic Drawings, Salted Paper Prints, and Calotype Prints

From Wiki

Back to Photographic Materials Chapter List
Back to PMG Photographic Processes

This entry is a Draft

In progress: Seeking additional comments and images to develop this section

Photographic Materials Conservation Catalog
Photographic Processes
Date: Initiated June 2012
Contributor: Luisa Casella, Amanda Maloney, Stephanie Watkins

The Photographic Materials Conservation Catalog is created and maintained by the Photographic Materials Group of the American Institute for Conservation for the convenience of the membership. The treatments, methods, or techniques described herein are provided for informational purposes. The reader assumes responsibility for any application results or interpretation of information.

Photogenic Drawings, Salted Paper Prints, and Calotypes

Historical Facts

  • Photogenic drawings was the name given to the images produced by William Henry Fox Talbot to the images produced by his earliest experiments in the 1830's.
  • Salted-paper prints: The first viable paper negative process was developed by William Henry Fox Talbot in the late 1830s. In turn, these paper negatives were used to make positive salted-paper prints. In 1847 Louis-Désiré Blanquart-Evrard developed a simplified version of Talbot’s formula and published it in France.
  • The calotype, a much improved version of the photogenic drawing process, was invented then patented by Talbot in 1841.

Patented: Talbot showed examples of his photogenic drawings to the (British) Royal Photographic Society in 1839, fuelled by the announcement of the daguerreotype in France. The first salt-print negative process was patented by William Henry Fox Talbot in England 1841 and called a calotype.
Main Period of Use:
Historic Practitioners: William Henry Fox Talbot, Hill and Adamson, Nicolaas Henneman, Langenheim Brothers; T, Hill, Louis-Désiré Blanquart-Evrard, Gustave Le Gray, Édouard Baldus, Heri Le Secq,
Contemporary Practioners:

Identification Characteristics
Image layer: The image is formed by silver deposited directly in the paper support.
Color: Range from warm brown to cool gray tones.
Support: paper, initially stationery, later wove papers that can withstand prolonged water immersion
(Non-destructive) XRF can be used to identify the silver image and also detect sulfur if the image has been fixed in sodium thiosulfate. (Destructive) GC-MS may be used to identify coating materials.

Basic Process Overview

Types of Deterioration

Housing and Storage Considerations
Temperature: A stable temperature between 18 and 30°C is necessary to avoid embrittlement
Relative Humidity: Between 30% and 50%.
Housing: There are a variety of good choices of paper and plastic materials that have passed the PAT and are suitable for housing paper. One must consider all factors (research, access, preservation, exhibition, art in transit) and balance the pros and cons for a specific collection.

Emergency Recovery

Helpful Treatment Techniques, Things to Know, and CAUTIONS!


Process and Historic Material
Root, M.A. 1864. The Camera and the Pencil, History of the Heliographic Art, Philadelphia
Scully, France and Osterman, Mark. 2009. "Scully and Osterman" website:
Contemporary Practice

Back to Photographic Materials Chapter List
Back to PMG Photographic Processes