Although this fern study is a continuation of the centuries-old tradition of botanical illustration in all media, it is most directly related to the earliest cameraless botanical studies by William Henry Fox Talbot, the inventor of paper photography and a friend of both Anna Atkins and her father, John George Children. Children was a fellow and secretary of the Royal Society, and keeper of the Department of Natural History and Modern Curiosities at the newly established British Museum, and Atkins was a serious—if amateur—botanist who spent more than a decade gathering ferns, algae, and flowering plants and recording their form with the cyanotype process. An 1842 invention of the scientist Sir John Herschel, this photographic process is commonly known as the blueprint process employed (until recently) by architects to duplicate their line drawings.


  • Title: Osmunda Rigalis (Australia)
  • Creator: Anna Atkins
  • Creator Lifespan: 1799 - 1871
  • Creator Nationality: British
  • Creator Gender: Female
  • Date Created: 1853 - 1854
  • Physical Dimensions: w23.5 x h34.9 cm (sheet)
  • Type: Photograph
  • External Link: MFAH
  • Medium: Cyanotype
  • Credit Line: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, museum purchase funded by Mrs. Clare A. Glassell

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