Carex (America)

Carex (America)

Bound volume

Anna Atkins

British, 1799–1871

Carex (America)

From the album Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns

ca. 1850
Image: 10 1/16 × 7 15/16 in. (25.5 × 20.1 cm)
Mount: 14 3/4 × 9 7/16 in. (37.5 × 24 cm)
Matted: 20 × 16 in. (50.8 × 40.6 cm)
Purchase with funds from the Ford Motor Company Fund and the Margaret T. Morris Foundation
Inscriptions Inscribed on negative and printed on recto, BC: Carex \ (America)
Inscribed in pencil on mount recto, BR: AA.159.X
TextAnna Atkins was trained as a botanist and utilized photographic techniques to make visual records of botanical specimens. She learned about the development of photography from Willam Henry Fox Talbot, and learned to use the cyanotype process directly from its inventor Sir John Herschel. Using Herschel’s cyanotypes and Talbot's method of photogenic drawing, Atkins produced the entirely photographically printed and illustrated book "British Algae," published in sections between 1843 and 1853. “British Algae” is significant in that it marks the first known photographic work by a woman, and the first book produced entirely by photographic means.

(HoP rotation 11, Rachel Andrews)
Anna Atkins used a cameraless technique known as photogenic drawing to document botanical specimens in the British Isles. This early photographic method involved placing objects on top of photochemically treated paper and exposing it to sunlight. She learned the process from William Henry Fox Talbot, who was one of the first people to experiment with light-sensitive materials on paper. Atkins printed the botanical specimens as cyanotypes, a photographic process that utilizes iron salts that form the Prussian blue pigment. Not only was Atkins the first person to ever use photographic materials for a scientific study of the natural world, but she was also the first to produce an entirely photographic publication, titled British Algae.
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