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We’ve talked about Henry’s influential mother, Lady Elisabeth Theresa Feilding, née Fox Strangways (16 Nov 1773 – 12 Mar 1846) from time to time (and there will be more),  Her kickname within the family was ‘Lilly’ and given the season that seemed sufficient reason to pass along out greetings to her.  Lillies are sometimes associated with death but I much prefer the more mystical meaning of one who enlightens.  Nobody had a greater influence on the development of Henry’s mind and I think in the end she will be viewed as our most important early biographer of him and particularly as our most perceptive photo-historian,

 

WHFT, The Lily Vase, salt print from a calotype negative, 19 October 1840

 

 

The negative was one of Talbot’s first calotypes, made just three weeks after he invented the process.  We can see from his inscription that the exposure time was three minutes (I doubt that Lady Elisabeth  would have trusted him to take it out in the courtyard).  Does the ’10’ represent the number of prints that he made?  Or, more likely, their exposure time under the negative?

 

Larry J Schaaf

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• Questions or Comments? Please contact Prof Schaaf directly at larry.schaaf@bodleian.ox.ac.uk  • WHFT, The Lily Vase, salt print from a calotype negative, 19 October 1840, National Media Museum, Bradford, 1937-365-31; Schaaf 2512. • WHFT, The Lily Vase, inscriptions from verso of a calotype negative, 19 October 1840, Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, 1995.206.80 Schaaf 2512. As is typical of this crucial collection, the image is totally faded, preserving only the informative inscriptions.