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The HaystackEnlarge image

The Haystack, April 1844

William Henry Fox Talbot
British, 1800 - 1877
salted paper print
Printed by Nicolaas Henneman
19 x 22.9 cm; image: 16.4 x 21 cm
Purchased 1975
National Gallery of Canada (no. 33487.31)

Talbot described this image, plate 10 in "The Pencil of Nature", as showing how well photography could record "a multitude of minute details which add to the truth and reality of the representation, but which no artist would take the trouble to copy faithfully from nature." No painter, he went on, would take the time to reproduce every accident of light and shade. Nevertheless, it is this ability of photography to capture such incidentals that gives it a special charm. In "The Haystack", Talbot shows a strong sense of pictorial form and geometry and an awareness of how important light is for the photographer in turning the ordinary into the poetic.

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