Sun Gardens: Victorian Photograms


世界で最初に写真を撮影したのはフランスのニエプスですが、世界で最初に刊行された写真集は何かとなると、二つの見解があります。一つは、イギリスのタルボットが1844年から1866年にかけて刊行した『Pencil of Nature』(自然の鉛筆)全6冊を最初とする説で、もう一つは、今回紹介する、同じくイギリスのアンナ・アトキンスが1843年につくった『Sun Gardens』を最初とする説です。答えに違いが生じるのは、『Pencil of Nature』は公刊で『Sun Gardens』は私家版だったことによります。「公刊」という観点に重きをおくと『Pencil of Nature』が最初になり、写真を本のかたちにして見せたことを重んじると、アンナ・アトキンスの『Sun Gardens』が世界で最初の写真集になるというわけです。


Sun Gardens: Victorian PhotogramsPHOTOGRAPHY BY KAZUO MINATO

  • No.019
  • 『Sun Gardens: Victorian Photograms』 Anna Atkins
  • TUESDAY, 7th JANUARY, 2014 by Yoshiyuki Morioka

Niépce in France was the first person ever to take a photograph, but when it comes to what the first collection of photographs printed in the world was there are two theories. One theory holds that the first was “Pencil of Nature” published by the Englishman Talbot in 6 volumes from 1844 to 1866. The other theory holds that the first was “Sun Gardens” published in 1843 by the Englishwoman Anna Atkins, which I will introduce in this article. The difference in opinion lies in the fact that “Pencil of Nature” was published for the public while “Sun Gardens” was published privately. If we place weight on the published-for-the-public theory, then “Pencil of Nature” is the first ever collection, but if we place more weight on the photographs being put into and shown in a book, Anna Atkins’s “Sun Gardens” is the first one ever in the world.

Anna Atkins was originally a botanist who learned photography itself from Talbot. The photographs are blue and white is not because she sought a unique aesthetic sense by coloring the plants to be blue and white. It is a special characteristic of the Cyanotype style of photography. Cyanotype is a style of photography using chemical reactions of ferrous salts whose brightness is reflected as tints of blue. In terms of her photographic ability to bring out the vividness and reality of the plants, it feels not as if they are losing their brightness but rather surpassing that of digital ones. The fact that such beautiful images were produced is worthy of surprise in the predawn of photograph collections. Moreover, Anna Atkins was a woman, so she is noteworthy as the first female photographer in the world. The one featured here is of course a reprint, yet even this is out of print. Anna Atkins’s achievement should be made more widely public.