Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Pencil of Nature: The first reports of the invention of Photography in America

The invention and early development of photography are well documented in the periodicals of the time. The first mention of what was then known as "photogenic drawing" in America was in 1839 in an interesting magazine call The Corsair, which, in order to get the latest news from Europe, sent out a fast boat to meet the steamer from England in order to be the very first to report the most recent events from Europe.

This issue of The Corsair, for April 13, includes a lengthy article describing Henry Fox Talbot's "Pencil of Nature" with the rather negative spin that it would have a harmful effect on the world of art (to read the complete original text click here . A few months later in November, The Journal of the Franklin Institute was the first to publish Daguerre's process in detail. By 1850 photography had become firmly established and the first periodical exclusively devoted to it, The Daguerrian Journal, was begun.

Photography as an art was later pioneered by Alfred Steiglitz, using a series of journals to publish his and others original gravures. Steiglitz' first publication was Camera Notes, followed by the monumental Camera Work, whose issues are highly sought and quite valuable.

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