William Henry Fox Talbot
William Henry Fox Talbot British, 1800-1877
Born in Melbury, Dorset, Fox Talbot was a gentleman of the 19th century who, like many others of his class, pursued leisure activities in the arts and sciences. He experimented with means for capturing permanently the elusive images formed on paper by the camera obscura, an instrument used as a drawing aid. After several years of varying results, Talbot successfully devised a process that chemically recorded the image made by light on a piece of paper. On February 21, 1839, one month after the announcement of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre's photographic process, Talbot presented his experiments to the Royal Society in London.
Talbot's process differed greatly from that of Daguerre. Unlike the daguerreotype's sharply detailed image, the calotype, or Talbotype, was softly blurred; yet because the positive image was made from a negative, it had the advantage of multiple reproduction. This formed the basis of conventional photography.
A graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, Talbot was a man of scholarly and scientific bent whose interests included optics and botany. Before his work in photography, he also had published on mathematics and linguistics. He later played an important role in the deciphering of Assyrian and other cuneiform inscriptions of interest to biblical scholars.
Talbot was made a Fellow of the Royal Society at age 32. He is credited with the first photographic negative, which still exists, a view of a set of windows at his home, Lacock Abbey. He invented a form of engraving that was a forerunner of photogravure, as well as other innovations in the quickly growing art form for which he was largely responsible. Talbot's The Pencil of Nature (1844-46) and Sun Pictures in Scotland (1845) are two of the earliest photographically illustrated books. T.W.F.
Calvert Richard Jones
Reverend Calvert Richard Jones, Jr. British, b. Wales, 1804-1877
Calvert Jones was part of the circle of Welsh amateur photographers that emerged around John Dillwyn Llewelyn and were strongly influenced by William Henry Fox Talbot. Educated at Oriel College, Oxford, Jones returned to Wales in 1829 after his ordination to serve as rector of Loughor near his native town of Swansea. A man of varied interests, including mathematics, music, and painting, he was introduced to photography by Welsh members of Talbot's family.
In 1845, after lessons and practical experience in calotyping with Talbot in Britain, Jones embarked on a trip to Malta and Italy, during which he produced a number of views. On his return, he sent 22 small calotypes and 102 larger ones to Talbot, who sold them on commission. Jones's training in art, especially marine painting, lends his images considerable confidence of composition, tone, and scale. T.W.F.