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First Photographs on Paper in Great-Britain (1840-1860) to Open at Musee D'Orsay
William Fox Talbot (1800-1877), La meule de foin (The Haystack) Avril 1844. Epreuve sur papier salé d'après un négatif papier. 16,2 x 21 cm. National Media Museum, Bradford, UK © The RPS Collection at the National Media Museum, Bradford.

PARIS.- In 1839, when the daguerrotype appeared in France, the Englishman William Fox Talbot invented a technique destined to have a great future as it used the principle of the negative and printing on paper. He named his invention a calotype, "the beautiful image". Whereas France gave the world the daguerrotype, and made it freely available, Fox Talbot took out a patent on his calotype. So in Britain the daguerrotype became the tool for both amateur and commercial photography throughout the following decade. The calotype however was regarded as a cultured gentleman’s pursuit - an activity for the leisured classes.

Chosen for their aesthetic and historical qualities, the majority of these photographs have never been shown since the mid nineteenth century. Fox Talbot, Roger Fenton, Benjamin Brecknell and Turner are well known, but several photographers, like William Collie and Arthur James Melhuish, are presented in France for the first time. As a counterpoint to the exhibition The French Daguerrotype (Musée d'Orsay and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003), The art of the English calotype highlights a different conception of the new medium of photography and an alternative technical, aesthetic and economic principle.

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