History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. ~Winston Churchill

08 May, 2013

The Smithsonian in Cyanotype

Early museum photography! Thomas William Smillie was the first official photographer at the Smithsonian in the late 19th century, documenting objects, activities, and exhibitions. As his photographs were mostly intended for use as reference, they were printed as cyanotypes, easy and cheap. The results, combining simple compositions with the deep Prussian blue of the cyanotype, have a striking beauty beyond their original purpose. Mostly circa 1890-1900, though Smillie worked at the Smithsonian until his death in 1917.


Smithsonian Institution

Glass slides hanging in a window. Source



Smithsonian Institution

Books. Source



Smithsonian Institution

Candlesticks. Source





Smithsonian Institution

A Confederate army coat. Source



Smithsonian Institution

A lab, I think? Source



Smithsonian Institution

The daguerreotype equipment of Samuel Morse (in addition to inventing the telegraph, he was into photography). Source



Smithsonian Institution

A photograph or painting. Source



Smithsonian Institution

A Chinese box kite. Source



Smithsonian Institution

A stereograph. Source



Smithsonian Institution

Stuffed animals. Source



Smithsonian Institution

Figurines. Source


Smithsonian Institution

A negative. Source



Smithsonian Institution

I'm not sure what's being documented here... the pen? (yes, yes it isSource



Smithsonian Institution

A tintype. Source



Smithsonian Institution

A letter. Source



Smithsonian Institution

Not sure what these are... anyone? Source



Smithsonian Institution

More stuffed animals. Source



Smithsonian Institution

A sketch/line drawing. Source



Smithsonian Institution

Presumably some kind of photograph, though I don't know why it looks like this. Source



Smithsonian Institution

A model of the National Zoo in Washington DC. Source



Smithsonian Institution

Another negative. Source



Smithsonian Institution

A statue. Source



Smithsonian Institution

Two photographs. Source



Smithsonian Institution

A collection of figurines. Source



Smithsonian Institution

Trays of some kind, I think? Frames? Boxes? Source


2 comments:

Ana said...

The last picture looks to me like a collection of those boxes for butterflies and geology samples.

Mrs.Leapheart said...

I think your mystery slides are spectrum studies of different elements. My terminology is incorrect, I know.

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