The Pencil of Nature.
By William Henry Fox Talbot.
150 pp., 24 calotype illustrations, 8½x11".
Originally published as a serial between 1844 and 1846, The Pencil of Nature was the first book to be illustrated entirely with photographs. Early enthusiast William Henry Fox Talbot hoped to spur public interest in photography—but was forced to cease publication after just six installments. In its time, The Pencil of Nature was a commercial disaster.
150 years later, Talbot’s Pencil is recognized as a major contribution to both the history of photography and the development of the book. Talbot not only invented the calotype process—the precursor to today’s film cameras—he transformed his everyday subjects into art. Architectural studies and local landscapes, still-lifes, close-ups, and even a single, painstakingly executed portrait—Talbot’s twenty-four prints remain strikingly modern and quietly beautiful.
Reproduced from the original plates held in England’s National Media Museum, each print is accompanied by the artist’s own careful description of its creation. An introduction gives further shape to Talbot’s life, making The Pencil of Nature an essential volume for historians, photographers, and anyone interested in the development of this modern art.