Bodleian needs £375,000 to secure historic photo archive

Fox Talbot and some of his early experiments

Fox Talbot and some of his early experiments

First published in News

OXFORD’S Bodleian Library has moved a step closer to buying the personal archives of the father of photography.

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–1877) is regarded as the founder of photography and took some of the first pictures of Oxford.

His private collection is on sale for £2.2m and is the last significant Talbot collection remaining in private hands.

Now the Bodleian is £200,000 closer to its target after being given a grant by the Art Fund.

Richard Ovenden, deputy to Bodley’s Librarian, said: “We are extremely grateful for all donations which we have received so far, from the grants awarded by the Art Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund, to all the individual donations.

“Every single one of them brings us closer to reaching our target needed to acquire the Talbot archive which is an essential resource for scholars on the history of photography, the history of science, and a range of other disciplines.”

The Bodleian’s appeal was launched in December 2012 with an initial deadline of the end of February 2013 for the money needed to buy the archive.

A grant of £1.2m from the National Heritage Memorial Fund in January gave the appeal a vital boost.

The Bodleian has now negotiated an extension to the fundraising deadline and must raise the remaining £375,000 needed to fully fund the acquisition by August 2014.

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Bodleian Library’s aim to acquire a major archive of works by British inventor and photographer William Henry Fox Talbot.

“This collection of material is of unparalleled importance in shedding light on both his life and his pioneering work. I urge everyone to support the final stage of the Bodleian’s appeal.”

Born in 1800, Talbot was one of the greatest polymaths of the Victorian age and as well as items related to his pioneering work in photography, the archive also sheds light on his family life, his life as a Member of Parliament, and his range of intellectual interests from science to ancient languages.

Photographs in the archive depict Oxford’s Botanical Gardens, and the tower of Magdalen College.

The appeal has been backed by artist David Hockney and Sir Paul Nurse, the president of The Royal Society.

It is also supported by two renowned photographers, Martin Parr and Hiroshi Sugimoto, Royal Photographic Society president Michael Pritchard and Prof Martin Kemp, former Professor of Art History at Oxford University.

If the Bodleian acquires the collection it is planning a major exhibition in 2017.

Oxford’s best known Victorian photographer was Henry Taunt, who took thousands of photos, using glass plates.

He died in 1922.

Another Oxford photographic pioneer was Sarah Acland, who took up photography in 1891.

Some of her photographs are stored in the Bodleian.

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