[Arrangement of Specimens]

Hippolyte Bayardabout 1842

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

This image is an early example of a scientific fundamental of photography--the light sensitive nature of certain chemical compounds. Without the use of a camera or lens, Hippolyte Bayard carefully arranged a delicate selection of laces and flora on a sheet of paper that was made sensitive to light with a combination of iron salts that produced a blue-toned cyanotype when developed. The sheet of sensitized paper with the objects placed upon it is exposed to sunlight in order to make a camera-less photogenic drawing.

The opacity of the object blocks the light in relation to its density, thus creating a silhouette of the object on the paper. Because the process was relatively uncomplicated, cyanotypes provided a quick method of recording easily recognizable shapes and patterns. Bayard filled the entire sheet of paper, creating a catalog of specimens that reveals the basic structure of each flower, leaf, feather, and scrap of fabric.

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  • Title: [Arrangement of Specimens]
  • Creator: Hippolyte Bayard
  • Date: about 1842
  • Location Created: Paris, France
  • Physical Dimensions: 27.7 x 21.6 cm (10 7/8 x 8 1/2 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Cyanotype [Direct Negative]
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Object Type: Negative
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 84.XO.968.5
  • Inscription: (Verso) inscribed in brown ink, at bottom edge: "ferrocyanate de potasse / critrate defer [illeg. and crossed-out] en d'ammoniaque"
  • Display Location: Not currently on view
  • Department: Photographs
  • Culture: French
  • Classification: Photographs


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