|Dates: ||1789 - 1849|
Tytler was a successful artist, a draftsman to the Duke of Gloucester and the illustrator of the Pictorial Alphabet favored by the royal family. He traveled widely and “was well known to the literati in London and abroad.” In April 1839, having heard about Daguerre and the English photographers, Tytler “made some paper to be sensitive to a Camera obscura’s glass.” He sent several examples of his early photography printed on the paper he used to write a letter to his artist friend Barron Graham, in Edinburgh. The letter survives in a private collection, and although it is all that is known of Tytler’s work, it is a graphic demonstration of an independent photographic invention inspired by the idea being made public. Always an eccentric, Tytler, in spite of his wide connections, would never admit anyone to his lodgings. His friends raised an annuity to sustain him in old age, but he died in crushing poverty in London. It is unlikely that any other photographic examples by him were saved, for in the end his room “resembled a dung-heap more than the habitation of a human being.”
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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