Portrait of a Woman, 13 November 1843
salted paper print
12.1 x 10.2 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 33540)
portrait, single, female; wearing bonnet, shawl
In November 1843 the young amateur William Sherlock wrote to the inventor of photography, William Henry Fox Talbot, apologizing for the delay in sending some example portraits: "The weather here is most unfavorable but I enclose three which were taken the last few days." This image is one of those three primitive portraits, taken by a self-taught calotypist "quite unaware of the time usually occupied in taking a portrait never having exchanged a word with anyone acquainted with the art or derived any knowledge upon the subject except from the Edinburgh Review and my own perseverance". The study is probably of his wife, Anne (née Henshaw), the daughter of a music professor, suffering through an uncomfortable exposure time of twenty to twenty-five seconds. Sherlock, a London attorney, had opened discussions with Talbot a year earlier about securing a license to practise calotype portraiture in London.