There are rival claims to the invention of photography by Nicéphore de Niepce, Louis Daguerre and William Fox Talbot (1800-1877). Although this is a debate that is unlikely to be settled, Fox Talbot's improved method of producing photo-sensitive paper by coating it with silver iodide or nitrate, exposing it and developing the image with gallic acid, was the seed from which all subsequent photographic methods have grown.

The photograph on this page is from an album of 31 prints, initially sent individually to William Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire, during 1845 and 1846 by Lady Elizabeth Fielding, Fox Talbot’s mother. Four letters by Lady Fielding to the Duke, included within the album, show she was a keen proponent of her son's work and record her attempts to interest the Duke in this new medium. This met with apparently limited success, as although the Duke did take the time to paste the photographs and her letters into a commonplace book, there are no other Fox Talbot prints in the collection.

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