Cyanotypes of British Algae by Anna Atkins (1843)

atkins-banner

Anna Atkins (1799-1871) was an English botanist and the very first female photographer, most noted for using photography in her books on various plants. Having grown up with her father John George Children — a chemist, mineralogist, and not too successful zoologist — she was surrounded by science and also contributed to her father’s work. Her engravings of shells can be found in her father’s translated edition of Jean-Baptiste de Monet Lamarck’s Genera of Shells, published in 1823, but it is her work with cyanotypes that she is best known for. Through her father and her husband, Atkins came to know both William Henry Fox Talbot, a pioneer of early photography who invented a process of creating photographs on paper treated with salt and a solution of silver nitrate, and Sir John Herschel, the inventor of the cyanotype printing method. She became interested in the cyanotype process which produced images through so-called sun-printing. The object is placed on paper which has been treated with ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide, after which it is exposed to sunlight and then washed in water, leading to the uncovered areas of the paper turning a dark blue. The process, known as blueprinting, was later used to reproduce architectural and engineering drawings, but Atkins chose to use it for what is considered to be the first work with photographic illustrations, namely her Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843). Only 13 copies of the handwritten book are known to exist, some of which are in various stages of completion. Later, she would collaborate with another female botanist, Anne Dixon (1799–1864), in making two more books featuring cyanotypes: Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns (1853) and Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns (1854). Atkins became a member of the Botanical Society in London in 1839, one of the few scientific societies which was open to women.

Housed at: Flickr: The Commons | From: New York Public Library
Underlying Work: PD Worldwide | Digital Copy: No Additional Rights
Download: Right click on image or see source for higher res versions


3095355175_cd10068e8c_o

3109178253_f4f1526ac8_o

3109170399_39e29ecaf1_o

3109177825_1b31baa6ef_o

3109178045_1071066024_o

3109996090_3b6fd5b6eb_o

3110003250_b58edf58a8_o

3110010430_f0ab625dbd_o

3096195122_d818e4f2b4_o

3109149691_af8eecebc9_o

3109163339_d01a69dcf1_o

3109981880_9b9d7c659f_o

3109982000_421d10b3fd_o

3109995778_1ab001e479_o

3109149463_2bcb3b3970_o

3109150475_bc053f4a86_o

3109982474_b180a52b69_o

3110003142_fcf4401fd7_o

3110003488_6874929555_o

3110003828_2dbf12e820_o





  • medievalrants

    Really nice item – but is the word “female” really necessary in the first sentence? … especially with “Anna” and “her” also there. Imagine any other of your articles with the word “male” in the same context …