William Henry Fox Talbot

The Haystack

April 1844
In the text he wrote for this plate in "The Pencil of Nature", Talbot praised Nature's draftsmanship: "One advantage of the discovery of the Photographic Art will be, that it will enable us to introduce into our pictures 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. Contenting himself with a general effect, he would probably deem it beneath his genius to copy every accident of light and shade." But there are no accidents of light and shade here. Curiously for something seemingly so unchanging, this arresting and compelling image is all about time, and Talbot shows himself to be its absolute master. The autumn's harvest was bountiful, the ancient traditions of preserving for the winter came into play, and as spring's sunlight begins to strengthen, this storehouse stands ready to sustain life until the next cycle.
Title
The Haystack
Date
April 1844
Medium
Photograph
Materials
salted paper print
Dimensions
19 x 22.9 cm; image: 16.4 x 21 cm
Nationality
British
Credit line
Purchased 1975
Accession number
33487.31