Photogenic Drawings, Salted Paper Prints, and Calotype Prints

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Date initiated June 2012
Contributors Luisa Casella, Amanda Maloney, Stephanie Watkins

Photogenic Drawings, Salted Paper Prints, and Calotypes[edit | edit source]

Historical Facts[edit | edit source]


  • 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. 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.

Identification Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Image layer[edit | edit source]

The image is formed by silver deposited directly in the paper support

Color[edit | edit source]

Range from warm brown to cool gray tones.

Support[edit | edit source]

paper, initially stationery, later wove papers that can withstand prolonged water immersion

Analysis[edit | edit source]

(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.

Conservation[edit | edit source]

Housing and Storage Considerations[edit | edit source]

Housing[edit | edit source]

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.

Storage[edit | edit source]

Temperature: A stable temperature between 18 and 30°C is necessary to avoid embrittlement
Relative Humidity: Between 30% and 50%.

Exhibition[edit | edit source]

Emergency Recovery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Further Reading[edit | edit source]

  • 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:

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