Early Days 1839-1880

Days 1839-1880

To the 19th century mind, with its penchant for the scientific and the mechanical, the camera was the supreme mechanism, a trap for facts. Capable of capturing high detail, operated with a minimum of human intervention, it seemed from the first to have a special purchase on the truth. William Henry Fox Talbot, the Englishman who was one of photography's inventors, was merely summing up what would become the judgment of the day when he called his new process the "pencil of nature."

So why shouldn't it serve as the pencil of history too? If faces and flowers could inscribe themselves...

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