Saturday, February 2, 2019

Scientific Illustration: Cyanotypes

Image result for blue cyanotype

Environmental & Science Education
Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

Writing for the New Yorker (January 28, 2019), Andrea K. Scott calls attention in the wonderful section, Goings On About Town, that the New York Public Library currently hosts an exhibition of "the woman responsible for the world's first photography book, published in 1843--and illustrated with exquisite velvet-blue cyanotypes of British algae."  The book was "signed with her initials, A. A., instead of her name.  Not long after Anna Atkins died, in 1871, an enthusiast attributed her book to an 'Anonymous Amateur,' but the British Museum set the record straight almost immediately."

Samples of the exhibit are not accessible at distance--they are truly goings on in town, but the J. Paul Getty Museum has the illustrations from the scientific reference book, British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions.  Anna Atkins was a botanist and through this publication "established photography as an accurate medium for scientific illustration."

I'd not heard of her or of this beautiful book--a very pleasant discovery. 

Blue cyanotypes, just one of those soulful blues (from "A Soulful Shade of Blue" by Buffy St. Marie).

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