Artworks and Artists
The Ladder

The Ladder,
April 1844
Talbot, William Henry Fox
salted paper print
19.1 x 22.8 cm; image: 17.1 x 18.3 cm


William Henry Fox Talbot published installments of The Pencil of Nature between 1844 and 1846. The book contained 24 salted paper prints, mostly of architecture, still-life arrangements, and works of art. To Talbot they were “specimens” made to showcase the potential of the “new Art.” This image is plate number 14. In his notes accompanying the plate, Talbot wrote, “Portraits of living persons and groups of figures form one of the most attractive subjects of photography... Groups of figures take no longer time to obtain than single figures would require, since the camera depicts them all at once, however numerous they may be...” (Talbot, The Pencil of Nature, 1844.) This is the only portrait in Talbot’s book. Exposures were long, except in bright sunlight. This meant that inanimate subjects were easier to photograph.