A Picturesque Photographic Tour Through Scotland
journal contributionposted on 2021-05-21, 15:55 authored by Elizabeth Knazook
In the autumn of 1844, William Henry Fox Talbot traveled to Scotland to photograph abbey ruins, Gothic-style monuments, rivers, and rolling landscapes, using his newly patented calotype photographic process. The following summer, he printed twenty-three of the images in a book entitled Sun Pictures in Scotland, produced with salted paper prints from the calotype negatives. A gentleman scientist with a Cambridge education, Talbot was well-versed in the “picturesque” aesthetic that frequently informed landscape imagery, and the photographs in Sun Pictures demonstrate his understanding of picturesque composition. He directed the book on subscription to a wealthy, upper class audience, confident that it reflected an artistic sensibility shared by himself and his readers. Yet, while Sun Pictures was generally well-received, little evidence exists to indicate the critical reception this small selction of picturesque scenes received from its contemporary audience. Furthermore, by omitting any narrative text from the book, Talbot himself left few indications of what he hoped would be understood from his work.