“VERY FIRST GENERAL TREATISE ON PHOTOGRAPHY”: SCARCE FIRST EDITION OF HUNT’S ART OF PHOTOGRAPHY, 1841, WITH ONE OF THE EARLIEST REPRESENTATIONS OF A NEGATIVE PRINT
HUNT, Robert. A Popular Treatise on the Art of Photography, including Daguerréotype, and All the New Methods of Producing Pictures. Glasgow: Richard Griffin, 1841. Octavo, early plain blue paper wrappers and endpapers. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $6500.
First edition of Hunt’s landmark photographic work, with 29 in-text illustrations and frontispiece featuring one of the earliest representations of a negative print.
In the dramatic years of photography's early growth, with Niépce developing heliography, Daguerre the daguerreotype and Fox Talbot the calotype, Robert Hunt (1807-87), a British chemist, geologist and photographer, broke new ground with this "very first general treatise on photography" (Reilly, Albumen & Salted Paper Book). A pioneering text, it successfully broadened the influence, art and scientific uses of photography while also exploring new photographic processes. "On the discovery of photography Hunt at once began a series of careful experiments, and soon published in the Philosophical Transactions several papers on his results, one being the discovery that the protosulphate of iron could be used as a developing agent" (DNB). "With characteristic unselfishness, Hunt made [his and other discoveries] public during the early '40s." His innovation of "protosulphate of iron had many advantages over gallic acid as a developing agent… Its importance in shortening exposure time "compels us to pay particular attention to its introduction into photography" (Eder, 326). Two years after this book's publication, Hunt produced what many consider to be the first color photograph, using a chromatype process to create a direct positive image in hues of orange or lilac. With frontispiece plate of a photographic positive and negative—one of the earliest known representations of the negative print. Gernsheim Incunabula 653.
Some edge-wear to brittle text, a few stains to title page and gutter margin of Introduction. Foxing to later wrappers. A very good copy of this scarce and seminal work.