While trying to decide what to blog about, I thought about my current wip (Regency era) and how my hero was fixing to leave on a voyage. My hero and heroine had just gotten married the night before and she wants to give him something to remember her by (not that he would ever forget her). I thought of jewelry, a note, a hairpin, nothing seemed right.
Then a portrait miniature came to mind. As I researched the tiny paintings, I was fascinated that the earliest portrait miniaturists go as far back as 1450.
One particular English portraitist I found interesting was Henry Collen (October 9, 1797 – May 8, 1879). Below is a self portrait.
Arguably, below is the most famous miniature Henry painted. It is Princess Victoria in 1836, just a year before she became queen.
By 1840 Henry was an established portrait painter and became interested in electrotyping daguerreotype plates, the first commercially successful photographic process. The image is made on a copper plate that resembles a mirror. It is very fragile and can be rubbed with with a finger.He also began experimenting with calotype process. Calotype was an early photographic process developed by Fox Talbot which used paper sensitized with silver chloride that darkened in proportion to its exposure to light. The paper had to be exposed in the camera until the image was fully visible, typically an hour. And since he and Talbot were colleagues, they collaborated--with Talbot supplying the photographic knowledge, while Collen brought the artistic know-how.
In 1841 Talbot licensed Henry as the first professional photographer, or calotypist. Henry opened the first calotype portrait studio in London. He was said to produce miniatures that were a combination of old art painting and new art photography, because he enhanced the photos with paint.
Below is one of his photos, it depicts Queen Victoria with her daughter.
Because of many different reasons, one being it was not profitable; Collen ended his calotype business in 1844. He painted and photographed many of the most influential people of his era.
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