The Fox Talbot 1846 Art Union Journal Project

Discovering the legacy of the first ever large scale use of photographs in a printed publication

Art Union Journal June 1846

In the Spring of 1846 Over 6000 Talbotype photographs were printed in Reading for publication

Where are they Now? What has survived?

The first Journal ever to include photographs on its pages

In the spring of 1846 William Henry Fox Talbot provided probably over 6000 original Talbotype images to the Art Union journal in a promotional effort which today is largely overlooked.  The images were published to popularise his photographic method and the publication was the first journal in the world to include photographs. Due largely to the haste of production, today, the images are often badly faded and this has contributed to the poor reputation of the feat.  I believe however, that these unique images from the birth of photography deserve to be better understood and this project is setting out to find and catalog the images that survive in order that we can better appreciate this remarkable publishing first.

Copies found to date...

Palais de Justice Rouen by Fox Talbot May 1843
Magdalene College Door
Eve at the Fountain

The Project
Some years ago when I first came across one of these images it set me wondering about all the rest that might still be in existence…. This project is aimed at answering some of these questions both for my own satisfaction, and to provide a better understanding of Talbots work for others who may also be interested in the future.
Where are these images now?, how many have survived? and what was the lasting legacy of Talbot’s promotional stunt? These are some of questions that will be explored by the 1846 Art Union project.  Although I’m just a private researcher with an interest in the history of photography, I’m pleased to have received encouragement to undertake this project by more recognised authorities.  I’m hopeful that the current keepers of the volumes will also have an interest in supporting the project.

Are you the keeper of one or more copies of Volume 8 of the Art Union Journal?

If you are the keeper of one or more copies of Volume 8 of the Art Union Journal or have a photograph that has been removed from a copy, your help would really be appreciated with this project. As a first step I am trying to locate and document as many copies as I can. For each copy I would like to ascertain some basic details about it. Some of these details will always be kept private (see request form), some may later be published a part of the reference information about volumes that have survived. It would be great if you could provide as much of the detail requested below as possible and please do attach a digital photograph (recommended) or a scan (if you are happy with this process) of your image. Please note these details will be collated on a computer database.

Your Help is appreciated - Do you know of a copy?

If you have access to a copy of Volume 8 with a Talbotype image please complete our questionnaire and help build a better historical picture of the this amazing story.

Download The Data Collection Form

For each copy that I identify I will be allocating a unique copy reference number, I will send this to you and I would be pleased if the reference could be kept associated with the copy as I hope it may benefit future researchers and avoid double counting.

Your Volume Reference Number

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Ian Wallace - Fox Talbot 1846 Art Union Project Researcher

Hi,   I’m Ian Wallace the main researcher for this project.  I’ve had a lifelong interest in photography and am an amateur photo historian based in the UK.   I am currently completing a project on the Stereo photographs of my Gt Gt Uncle taken across Scotland in around 1902-05.   You can find out about the project at www.onahillroad.com.

I was wondering what the earliest accessible photographic images were and having come across some of these Art Union pictures I stumbled upon the idea of this research.  I have been greatly encouraged by the response to the idea and am delighted hear from the keepers of copies of the Art Union Journal.  Hopefully we will all learn a little more from this work.