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Thomas Wedgwood: the Godfather of Photography

Thomas Wedgwood: the Godfather of Photography

 

1734 - 1797 (c.)

Image: The Alchymist in Search of the Philosopher’s Stone, (Exhibited 1771), Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797). Oil on Canvas, Derby Museum & Art Gallery. This painting was a likely influence on Tom Wedgwood.

Image from: Derby Museum & Art Gallery

Text: Alan Barnes

Summary

Thomas Wedgwood (1771-1805) was a son of Josiah Wedgwood, the Staffordshire potter and member of the Lunar Society. His upbringing and contacts with industrialists, inventors and artists provided him with an advanced scientific and cultural education. Like other members of the Wedgwood family he was interested in experimentation. Josiah Wedgwood used chemicals to create glazes and colours for his ceramic ware. Tom Wedgwood explored different ways of using chemicals to fix an image photographically. He was not successful in creating a permanent image, but his investigations contributed to the development of photography in the nineteenth century.

Sources and Further Reading

Batchen, G, “Tom Wedgwood and Humphry Davy: ‘An Account of a Method’”, History of Photography, Vol.17, 1983.
Litchfield, R, Tom Wedgwood the first Photographer, (London, Duckworth and Sons, 1903).
Wedgwood, B and Wedgwood, H, The Wedgwood Circle, 1730-1897, Four Generations of a Family and their Friends, (Westfield, N.J Eastview Editions Inc.).

Sections: [click on the images on the right to access each section]

1. Tom Wedgwood’s Importance
2. Early Influences
3. Scientific Achievements


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Related Themes:
1765-1775
1776-1783
1784-1791
1792-1802
1803-1815
Chemistry
Derby
History of Science
Innovation & Inventions
Paintings
Photography
The Enlightenment
The Enlightenment
Wedgwood, Josiah 1730-1795
Wedgwood, Thomas 1771-1805

Image Credits:

Donor Ref: ' (81/5231)'
Copyright information: Copyrights to all resources are retained by the individual rights holders. They have kindly made their collections available for non-commercial private study & educational use. Re-distribution of resources in any form is only permitted subject to strict adherence to the guidelines in the Full Terms and Conditions statement.
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Josiah Wedgwood

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1. Tom Wedgwood’s Importance

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Silhouette of Erasmus Darwin and his Son, Erasmus

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2. Early Influences

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Photograph of James Watt’s copying machine.

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3. Scientific Achievements

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