Anna Atkins 1799-1871
- Anna Atkins
- 'PTERIS ROTUNDIFOLIA (JAMAICA)'
The photographer to Anne Dixon, 1854
Sotheby's Belgravia, 28 October 1981, Lot 220
Hans P. Kraus, Jr., Inc., New York
Acquired by Margaret W. Weston from the above, 1984
Monterey Museum of Art, Passion and Precision: Photographs from the Collection of Margaret W. Weston, January - April 2003
Passion and Precision: Photographs from the Collection of Margaret W. Weston (Monterey Museum of Art, 2003, in conjunction with the exhibition), p. 9
Hans P. Kraus, Jr., Inc., Sun Pictures, Catalogue One (New York, 1984), pl. 32
The cyanotype photogram offered here is one of 160 photograms by Anna Atkins that appeared in her album Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns. Atkins, one of the pioneers of photography, learned the cyanotype process from Sir John Herschel in the early 1840s, and immediately set about documenting her large collection of British seaweed. Albums of her seaweed work, produced under the title of British Algae, are known in at least 13 variations (see Larry J. Schaaf, Sun Gardens: Victorian Photograms by Anna Atkins, New York, 1985, pp. 41-44), and it is plates from the Algae series that are most commonly seen. The album from which the present photogram was taken, however, is quite rare, known only in one copy, sold at Sotheby's Belgravia in 1981 and subsequently dispersed. A large number of plates from that album were acquired by Hans P. Kraus, Jr., including the photogram offered here; and by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and other private collections and institutions (ibid., p. 44).
The album from which the present photogram was taken was given by Anna Atkins to Anne Dixon, a childhood friend who collaborated with Atkins on many of her cyanotypes. According to the Sotheby's Belgravia entry, the album's original binding was gilt-stamped 'A. A. to A. D., 1854.' Anne Dixon was the aunt of the photographer Henry Dixon, whose photographs are offered in the present catalogue as Lots 123 and 124.