Shadow of a Flower, 1839 ?
William Henry Fox Talbot
British, 1800 - 1877
salted paper print
11.1 x 7 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 33538)
single flower on stem with leaf
Struggling to recall his earliest thoughts on photography, Henry Talbot wondered whether the idea "had ever occurred to me before amid floating philosophic visions." This ghostlike flower, sinuous and dancing almost like a creation in smoke, is such a vision, floating alive within a vase-shaped piece of paper. Photography's paradox is that it represents a precise point in time, but one available evermore. While the flower would have withered away within hours, it remains ever fresh in Talbot's rendition.