Salt and Silver: Early Photography 1840-1860

David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, Newhaven Fishermen (Alexander Rutherford, William Ramsay & John Liston), ca. 1845, salted paper print from paper negative, courtesy of the Wilson Centre for Photography

Early Photography 1840-1860

Opening Reception: November 10, 7-9 p.m.
Williamson Gallery, Scripps College

Salted paper prints, with their soft images in charcoal, sepia, and ochre, represent one of the earliest photographic technologies and offer rare glimpses into seldom seen worlds. Now, Southern Californians can view these rare prints at Salt and Silver, Early Photography, 18401860, on view at the Ruth Chandler Williamson gallery of Scripps College from Nov. 10 through Dec. 16, 2018.

A symposium will be held in the Scripps Humanities Auditorium on Sat., Nov. 10 from 3–4:30 p.m. , with an opening reception at the Williamson Gallery from 7–9 p.m. All events are free and open to the public. The exhibition is in collaboration with the Wilson Centre for Photography, London.

Salt and Silver presents more than 60 salted paper prints by renowned photographic pioneers such as William Henry Fox Talbot and the studio of Mathew Brady. Fragile and fewer in number than the metal daguerreotypes and tintypes predominant during this era, salted paper prints offer a glimpse into the early world of photography, as well as previously unseen landscapes.“This exhibition presents photography when it was a completely new imaging technology,” said Hope Kingsley, lead curator. She added: “The pictures show an experimental richness that gives us access to photography’s beginnings as a compelling artistic and documentary medium.”

With their hand-coated edges and organic colors, these prints have a magical aura. The process was the result of technological advances made during the early 19th century, in which a faint latent negative image was chemically developed to the full density and fixed, and then used to print many positive prints. “With this new portable technology,” said Gallery Director Mary MacNaughton, “photographers were able to take photographs around the world for the first time. Indeed, this exhibition presents rare glimpses of life in 19th-century Europe, Middle East, and the Americas.” Glimpses of lives long-forgotten, yet still accessible through these images.

The gallery is open from 12-5 p.m., Wed. through Sun. during exhibitions. Admission is free.

The Boston Globe‘s Mark Feeney offers an entertaining overview of the exhibition, well worth perusing, here.


Salt and Silver Symposium

Saturday, November 10, 3-4:30 p.m.
Humanities Auditorium, Scripps College


Introduction to Salt and Silver: Early Photography, 18401860     
Hope Kingsley, Curator of Education and Collections, Wilson Centre of Photography, London, co-edited with Marta Braun the book Salt and Silver: Early Photography, 18401860, and co-organized the exhibition by the same title. Kingsley was the lead curator of the exhibition and author of the catalog Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present (Yale University Press, 2012), presented at the National Gallery, London (2012–2013) and Caixa Forum, Barcelona and Madrid (2013). In addition, with Carol Jacobi, Kingsley co-curated the exhibition and co-authored the catalog Painting with Light: Art and Photography from Pre-Raphaelites to the Modern Age, at Tate Britain (2016). Kingsley also contributed essays to the exhibition catalogs The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement in Britain 18601900 at the Victoria and Albert Museum (2011) and Frederick H. Evans at the J. Paul Getty Museum (2010).

Knowing the World through Early Photographs
Chitra Ramalingam, Assistant Curator of Photography, Yale Center of British Art, New Haven, Connecticut, specializes in the history of nineteenth-century science and visual culture. She is a lecturer in the History of Science and Medicine program at Yale.  In 2018, with Hope Kingsley, Ramalingam co-curated the exhibition Salt and Silver: Early Photography 18401860, at the Yale Center for British Art. In 2013, she co-authored with Mirjam Brusius the introductory essay to the exhibition catalog William Henry Fox Talbot: Beyond Photography. Forthcoming in 2019 from Yale University Press is her book To See a Spark: Experiment and Visual Experience in Victorian Science.

Inventors and Manipulators: American Experimentation with Salted Paper Prints
Mazie Harris, Assistant Curator in the J. Paul Getty Museum Department of Photographs holds a Ph.D. in the History of Art from Brown University. Her research has been supported by the Terra Foundation, Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Antiquarian Society, Winterthur Library, National Portrait Gallery, New York Public Library, and Library of Congress. She is the author of Paper Promises: Early American Photography, a publication which accompanied a Spring 2018 exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Discussion of Salt and Silver: Early Photography, 18401860     
Juliet Koss, Professor and Chair of the Department of Art History at Scripps College, has published widely on modern European art and architecture with an emphasis on Germany and the USSR and is the author of Modernism after Wagner (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), shortlisted for the Charles Rufus Morey Book Prize from the College Art Association. She is currently completing Model Soviets, which explores the status and function of models—architectural designs, art objects, and abstract representations of future possibilities—in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s, with particular attention to the role of photography and film as representations of a projected utopia. The recipient of research fellowships from the Getty Research Institute, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Humboldt Foundation in Germany, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Clark Art Institute, and the Harriman Institute for Russian Studies at Columbia University, among others, Koss was a Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in 2009 and, in 2011, the Rudolf Arnheim Visiting Professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin.


Locations listed are on the Scripps College campus. The map of the campus can be accessed here.



Salt and Silver: Early Photography, 18401860 is organized by the Yale Center for British Art in partnership with the Wilson Centre for Photography, London. The lead curator is Hope Kingsley, curator of education and collections, with Polly Fleury, special projects, Wilson Centre for Photography; and the organizing curator at the Yale Center for British Art is Chitra Ramalingam, assistant curator of photography, working under Scott Wilcox, deputy director for collections. An abridged version of this exhibition, curated in collaboration with the Wilson Centre for Photography, was shown at the Tate Britain in 2015.

Image on slider: William Henry Fox Talbot, Nelson’s Column under Construction, Trafalgar Square, London, 1844, Image courtesy of the Wilson Centre for Photography