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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Cosmo Nelson Innes

Other: Cosmo Innes 
Dates:  1798 - 1874
Active:  UK

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Cosmo Nelson Innes
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

A professor of history at Edinburgh University and an antiquarian, Innes had contempt for mere bookworms, feeling that “more was to be learnt outside books than in them.” As a lawyer and an antiquarian, however, he was a formidable intellect. As he recalled in 1863, his motivation for entering photography was simple: “To myself, who cannot draw at all, it is too vexatious to pass through striking scenes, fine cities, quaint or curious buildings, without being able to take away the faintest memorial to help the recollection.” Innes joined the Edinburgh Calotype Club in the 1840s and was a friend of Talbot’s friend Sir Walter Calverly Trevelyan. In 1856 he joined the newly formed Photographic Society of Scotland, becoming a vice president. His six entries for that year’s exhibition were all calotypes of architecture in Scotland. Although this was the only exhibition that he was to enter, Innes continued to photograph on his annual trips to the Continent, amusing and instructing the society’s audiences with the photographs that accompanied his talks. In the days of collodion, Innes remained an unrepentant calotypist, still claiming in 1863 that “my process is the ancient unwaxed paper — the Talbot, in short, unmodified,” which, he modestly pointed out, “has some advantages for wandering photographers.” 
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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