NEW YORK CITY – A collection of 71 salt prints by William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) sold for $1,956,000 at Sotheby’s April 21 sale. The lot sold to Hans Kraus Jr, a dealer.
Sotheby’s described the Talbot photographs as “arguably the most important lot of Nineteenth Century photographs to ever come to market.”
Many of the prints featured manuscript captions and the words “Horatia’s Album.” They descended in the family of Talbot’s half-sister, Henrietta Horatia Maria Gaisford (née Feilding), for more than 170 years.
Talbot was an English forefather of early photography, his earliest experiments beginning in the spring of 1834. “By coating ordinary writing paper with a solution of salt and, subsequently, with silver nitrate, Talbot created a light-sensitive surface capable of capturing an image,” the auction house wrote. “These early experiments, however, were short-lived, could only be viewed for brief periods by candlelight, and would fade rapidly when viewed in normal daylight… Talbot’s great innovation to this process was to fine-tune the ratio of salt to silver nitrate: by using less salt and more silver nitrate, he made the paper more light-sensitive; and by applying a strong solution of salt after exposure, he discovered he could minimize the paper’s sensitivity to light.”
Similar albums compiled by Talbot are in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford, U.K.
For additional information, www.sothebys.com.