One of the New York Times Best Photo Books of 2018
This lavishly illustrated book features the beautiful and scientifically important photographs by Anna Atkins, whose landmark work combined a passion for botany with remarkable creativity and technical skill.
Anna Atkins (1799-1871) came of age in Victorian England, a particularly fertile environment for learning and scientific discovery. Guided by her father, a prominent scientist, Atkins was inspired by William Henry Fox Talbot to take up photography and was friends with Sir John Herschel, who invented the cyanotype photographic process in 1842. The next year, Atkins began making cyanotypes in an effort to illustrate and distribute information about her herbarium. The result was Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, the first book to be illustrated with photographs. A decade later, she and her friend Anne Dixon expanded their visual inquiry to flowering plants, feathers, and other subjects. This volume is a revised and expanded edition of a long out-of-print monograph that first secured Atkins’s place in the history of photography. It draws upon years of careful research and sets Atkins and her work in the proper context. Supplementary texts shed new light on her productions and on the cyanotype process, which is still used by artists today. The photographs themselves–ethereal, deeply hued, and wonderfully intricate–are brought to life with exquisite reproductions that are certain to win Atkins a new generation of followers. Copublished by The New York Public Library and DelMonico Books
“…the republication of Sun Gardens and the exhibition of her work marks a major effort to enhance her artistic legacy and acknowledge her contributions to scientific publishing and the history of the printed book.” –New York Review of Books
“It is a strong work of photography scholarship that sets Atkins’s work in its historical context and presents her delicate photograms with unshowy fidelity in a handsome volume.” -Teju Cole, The New York Times