The Bodleian Library has been given a £1.2m boost in its bid to raise £2.2m by the end of February to buy an important slice of photographic history.
The National Heritage Memorial Fund award
will go towards securing the Fox Talbot Archive - the only
significant collection related to "the father of photography"
remaining in private hands.
New York photographs dealer Hans P Kraus Jr
is selling the archive on behalf of the Talbot family. He said:
"The archive contains significant information for future Talbot
research. It is a core archive of the 19th century, containing
original documents, artworks and artefacts which reflect the
personality and wide-ranging achievements of the brilliant man
primarily known as the inventor of photography on paper."
The Bodleian already has a copy of The
Pencil of Nature, Talbot's ground-breaking 1844 book that was
the first commercial publication to be illustrated with
photographs. "The archive that we hope to buy contains several of
the very objects photographed by Talbot for the book," said a
"We have extensive existing photographic
holdings, some of which are extremely important (e.g. the Julia
Margaret Cameron album), and all of which deserve far greater
attention. Photography is a growing academic discipline within the
university. Oxford has attracted very significant photographic
resources over the past 175 years.
"The Bodleian's holdings begin with the tens
of thousands of books published in the 19th and 20th century that
were illustrated with original photographs or photomechanical
images, from The Pencil of Nature onwards."
If the Bodleian buys the archive - which has
an export licence - it will open an exhibition in 2017.
It includes the first photograph believed to have been taken by
a woman (his wife, Constance) and estate records from Lacock Abbey,
his Wiltshire home, now run by the National Trust.