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Loch Katrine (Loch Katrine Pier, Scene of the Lady of the Lake)

The invention of photography allowed artists to capture transient moments in daily life and nature. William Henry Fox Talbot patented his negative-positive process in 1841, and within four years published The Pencil of Nature and Sun Pictures in Scotland, two of the earliest books using photographic illustrations. This image shows his interest in the effects of light as reflected off the surface of the water. Its soft tonalities and composition are reminiscent of a picturesque landscape drawing. Even the choice of subject recalls a Romantic precedent—the setting of a Sir Walter Scott novel. The lack of clouds or ripples of water that gives the picture its ethereal quality was, however, the result of exposure times as long as one to two hours.

William Henry Fox Talbot
English, 1800–1877
Loch Katrine (Loch Katrine Pier, Scene of the Lady of the Lake), Plate XI from Sun Pictures in Scotland
1844 (published 1845)
Salted paper print
Image: 6 ¾ x 8 5/16 in. (17.1 x 21.1 cm); sheet: 7 ¼ x 9 1/16 in. (18.4 x 23.0 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 76.102.2