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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot

Other: C.R.M. Talbot 
Other: Kit Talbot 
Dates:  1803 - 1890
Active:  Great Britain / Malta / Germany

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Kit Talbot, as he was known to family and friends, was recognized as ďthe wealthiest commonerĒ in Britain. His wealth extended beyond the monetary realm, for he was the favorite cousin of W. H. F. Talbot and a member of an interesting scientific and artistic family. In the world of art, his father, Thomas Mansel Talbot, was primarily remembered for making collecting tours on the Continent to acquire paintings and especially antique sculpture, some from the famed excavator Gavin Hamilton. It was his son Kit who built Margam Castle in Wales, a suitable home for this outstanding collection. Kit was slightly younger than his cousin and came under his wing at Harrow. He read mathematics at Ox-ford, becoming deeply engaged by science, and there met his future lifelong friend, the Reverend Calvert R. Jones. They were to share not only mathematics and science but also a love of art and particularly of travel, the latter financed by Kit and the former enhanced by Jones. When he attained his majority in 1824, Kit Talbot came into an immense fortune, a small portion of which he put into his beloved yacht, Galatea. Travel was to be the core of his life. Remaining close to his cousin, Kit was one of the first to learn of photography and observed, if he did not participate in, the photographing of Margam Castle by W. H. F. Talbot in late 1839. Kit Talbotís opportunity to become a photographer himself stemmed from adversity. His wife, Charlotte, began a fatal decline in 1845, and Kit resolved to take her to the Mediterranean on his yacht in the hope of a cure in the warm climate. As was typical, Calvert Jones came along; by this time he was fired with enthusiasm for the calotype. Kit Talbot calotyped in Malta along with Reverend Jones and the Reverend George Bridges. Perhaps because he had no particular ambition to be a photographer, Kitís few calotypes were charmingly informal and in their own way very modern. His wife died at the beginning of 1846, and by then his daughter was ill. The journey home was a slow one, giving Kit more opportunities to take calotypes throughout northern Europe. His cousin published at least one of his photographs taken in Germany. Perhaps Kitís greatest contribution to the calotype was the financial and travel support he gave to his friend Jones, who produced an extraordinary body of early negatives that served to validate the invention. W. H. F. Talbot purchased many of these. 
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. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
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