William Henry Fox Talbot

A Fruit Piece

before June 1845
Between 1844 and 1846, Talbot published "The Pencil of Nature", the world’s first book to illustrate the potential of the new medium of photography. "A Fruit Piece" was included as the final illustration of the publication. The inclusion of the pineapple - something of a status symbol in the nineteenth century, often serving as an exotic gift meant to impress - is no doubt a reflection of Talbot's fascination with botany, and it has actually been suggested that this example may have been grown in his own greenhouse. The photographer's alignment of the white stripe of the tartan's pattern along the right edge of the table separates the dark areas of the cloth from the dark recesses of the background and gives the photograph depth. This attention to aesthetic qualities indicates that Talbot's intentions were as much artistic as they were scientific.
A Fruit Piece
before June 1845
salted paper print
18.4 x 22.6 cm; image: 16.5 x 19.8 cm
Credit line
Purchased 1994
Accession number