Anna Atkins: First Photography Book of British Algae 1843

Anna Atkins’s Photographs of British Algae is available in the New York Public Library Digital Collections. 

High-resolution images from Photographs of British Algae are part of the New York Public Library’s recent release of over 180,000 public domain images.

The First Woman Photographer Captured the Elegance of Algae

From Allison Meyer’s Photo Essay on Hyperallergic:

Anna Atkins, who lived from 1799 to 1871 in Kent, England, was captivated by algae, and in 1843 she created what’s considered the world’s first photography book, dedicated to the organism. It was called Photographs of British Algae, and she published several volumes of it over the next 10 years, all involving the then-new cyanotype process.

High-resolution images from Photographs of British Algae are part of the New York Public Library’s recent release of over 180,000 public domain images. The library cites the book as “the first photographic work by a woman, and the first book produced entirely by photographic means.” Their copy is one of 13 known to survive and was acquired in 1985 from descendants of Sir John Herschel, inventor of the cyanotype.

Anna Atkins 1st photography book British algae 1843

Anna Atkins in an 1861 albumen print (via RPS Yorkshire/Wikimedia)

Herschel likely taught Atkins the cyanotype, or blueprint, method. An early form of photography, it involves placing an object on light-sensitive paper and exposing both to the sun.

Anna Atkins Algae himanthalia larca 1843

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~ by artpoped on March 25, 2016.

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