William Henry Fox Talbot
The Open Door, 1844
Photogravure from original calotype print
7.5 x 6.75 inches
Edition of 300 produced as part of “The Golden Age of British Photography” portfolio (Aperture Foundation, with the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art)
Retail framed: $500
Courtesy Caryl Baron
William Henry Fox (1800-1877) was an English scientist, inventor and photography pioneer who invented the salted paper and calotype processes, precursors to photographic processes of the later 19th and 20th centuries. His work, in the 1840s on photomechanical reproduction, led to the creation of the photoglyphic engraving process, the precursor to photogravure.
Among the most widely admired of Talbot's compositions, The Open Door is a conscious attempt to create a photographic image in accord with the renewed British taste for Dutch genre painting of the seventeenth century. In his commentary in The Pencil of Nature, where this image appeared as plate 6, Talbot wrote, "We have sufficient authority in the Dutch school of art, for taking as subjects of representation scenes of daily and familiar occurrence. A painter's eye will often be arrested where ordinary people see nothing remarkable." With this concept in mind, Talbot turned away from the historic buildings of Lacock Abbey and focused instead on the old stone doorframe and simple wooden door of the stable and on the humble broom, harness, and lantern as vehicles for an essay on light and shadow, interior and exterior, form and texture.