1st Edition

Color and Victorian Photography

Edited By Lindsay Smith Copyright 2020
    220 Pages
    by Routledge

    220 Pages
    by Routledge

    Nineteenth-century photography is usually thought of in terms of ‘black and white’ images, but intense experimentation with generating and fixing colors pre-dated the public announcement of the daguerreotype in 1839. Introducing readers to the long, frequently overlooked story of the relationship of color to photography, this short anthology of primary sources includes: accounts of the scientific search for color by Elizabeth Fulhame and Sir John Herschel;photographers' views on color; extracts from the photographic press and from manuals on handcoloring; and accounts by critics such as John Ruskin. The volume provides a fresh perspective on the culture, history and theory of early photography, demonstrating why scientists, philosophers, photographers, literary writers and artists were so fascinated by the potential for polychrome in photographs. With an introductory essay arguing that from the earliest days of photography the prospect of color loomed large in the imagination of its creators, users and critics, this reader is an essential resource for students and scholars wanting to gain a full understanding of nineteenth-century photography and its relationship to art history, literature and culture.

    List of figures


    A Note on the Texts

    Section 1: ‘In traces represented by tints’: Monochrome/polychrome.

    1. From: J. C. Le Blon, Coloritto or the Harmony of Colouring in Painting (1720).

    2. From: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Theory of Colours (1840).

    3. From: John Ruskin “Of Turnerian Light,” Modern Painters IV, (1856).

    4. From: French Discovery – Pencil of Nature, from “The New Art,” The Literary Gazette, Feb. 2, 1839.

    5. From: M. Claudet, “The Progress and Present State of the Daguerreotype Art,”(1843-1844).

    6. “Calotypes,” The Literary Gazette (March 12, 1842).

    7. From: Charles Martel, “Colour in its Relation to Photography,” The Photographic News, August 1860.

    Section 2: ‘Exposed to the Sunbeams’: Chemical Reactions/’Vegetable colours’

    8. Elizabeth Fulhame, Preface to, and extracts from, An Essay on Combustion (1794).

    9. Thomas Wedgwood and Humphrey Davy, “An Account of a Method of copying Paintings upon Glass,” June (1802).

    10. From: John F. W. Herschel, ‘On the Action of the rays of the Solar spectrum on Vegetable Colours, and Some New Photographic Processes’, (1842).

    Section 3: ‘Graphy’ and ‘Photos’: the Color Purple.

    11. From: W. Cole, PURPURA ANGLICANA, being a discovery of a shell-fish found on the shores of the Severn . . .(1686).

    12. From: “The Action of Light on the Colouring Matter from the ‘Murex”’ Sept.1, 1860.

    13. From: John Ruskin, “The Queen of the Air: Athena Keramitis II,” 1869.

    Section 4: ‘Apollo and Apelles’: Coloring by hand.

    14. From: Pliny the Elder, Book 25, Ch. 36, The Natural History. Trans. John Bostock and H. T. Riley (1855).

    15. From: L. Mansion, Letters Upon the Art of Miniature Painting (London: 1822).

    16. “Photography and Painting,” The Literary Gazette (Jan. 10, 1846).

    17. From: Henry Morley (1822-1894) and William Wills (1810-1880), “Photography” March 19, (1853).

    18. From: Alfred H. Wall, A Manual of Artistic Colouring, as applied to Photographs. (1861).

    19. “Colouring Photographs. –No. I.” (1863). Section 5: “Direct” and “Indirect” Color.

    20. From: Robert Hunt, “On the Application of Science to the Fine and Useful Arts. Heliochrome,” Oct. 1851.

    21. From: “Those who Live in Glass Houses,” Nov. 26, 1864.

    22. From: Gabriel Lippmann, “Colour Photography,” April 30, 1896.

    23. From: Sarah Angelina Acland, “The Spectrum Plate. Theory: Practice: Result,” (23 August 1900).

    24. From: Yevonde, In Camera (1940).




    Lindsay Smith is Professor in the School of English, and Co-Director of the Centre for Photography and the Visual, at the University of Sussex. With an interest in photography dating back to her training in Fine Art, she specializes in the interrelationships between nineteenth-century photography, literature and painting. She has published widely in the field and her books include: Victorian Photography, Painting and Poetry (1995), The Politics of Focus: Women, Children and Nineteenth Century Photography (1998), Pre-Raphaelitism: Poetry and Painting (2013) and Lewis Carroll: Photography on the Move (2015).

    "A fascinating insight into the ways in which early practitioners of photography and art historians and philosophers more generally thought about the importance of color in the 19th century. - Caroline Blinder, Goldsmiths University, UK An extremely useful book for students – both undergraduate and graduate students taking History of Photography courses, and those taking broader based courses (especially as a graduate level) on Victorian Visual Culture - Kate Flint, University of Southern California, USA"