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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Arthur A. Taylor

Dates:  ? - 1873
Died:  France, Marseille
Active:  France

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Arthur A. Taylor
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Taylor is known only through his work in Marseilles, where he resided and was referred to as an “able amateur” by the editor of Photographic News and as “the English photographer.” He monogrammed some of his negatives “AAT.” Taylor was a founding member of Photographic Society of Marseilles and in 1866 was appointed to its Special Committee because of his “great experience in waxed paper.” He served as president from 1867 to 1868. In 1867 he displayed his waxed-paper negatives to the society, and seven more were hung in the 1869 exhibition of the Société Française de Photographie. Surviving prints show that Taylor favored views of parks and trees in urban settings, much in the style of later work by Eugène Atget. In 1866 Taylor gave a detailed aesthetic analysis of the features of the waxed-paper camera that he invented. Designed to make 10 x 14 inch negatives, it had a wide-angle lens that he felt better embraced the vista that artists painted. In order to place the vanishing point off center, he enabled the lens to rise and fall and shift left to right. Taylor took a special interest in the problems of fading prints and in 1863 devised his own paper coated with shellac. After a test period of three years, the prints remained strong in tone. But this was not just a technical triumph: the Photographic News of August 10, 1866, found the works to be “some of the most charmingly artistic landscape pictures we have seen for some time. They are chiefly printed on rough drawing-paper, and possess much of the quality for which water-colour artist prise this kind of paper.” While admiring the rich tones, the writer gave equal credit to Taylor’s mastery of the waxed-paper process, finding an “admirable selection of light, and the artistic feeling, which have characterized the negatives, materially assist in producing this impression.” In 1868 Taylor visited England and there was impressed by the Woodburytype process. He also had some of his photographs reproduced in photogravure. In 1869 Gustave Arosa, a tutor to Paul Gauguin, sold prints from Taylor’s negatives made by his own variant of the collotype, a photomechanical process dependant on bichromated gelatine. Sadly, the only prints known today are these and not the shellac ones that so impressed his contemporaries. Taylor died in Marseilles, where he had lived and made his reputation. 
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012. 
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