|Dates: ||1797 - 1863|
Harding was tutored in art by his father, the engraver John Harding, and showed such talent that he was accepted into exhibitions at the Royal Academy from the age of thirteen, winning a silver medal from the Society of Arts at nineteen. Harding vividly recalled that as a young man he had approached an artist in a park with some questions; nastily brushed off, he then and there vowed to share his knowledge whenever he could. Harding made good on his promise both as a teacher and, especially, through numerous influential publications, including his Elementary Art; or, The Use of the Lead Pencil Advocated and Explained. An early master of lithography, he was surely aware of photography from its start. In 1847 Calvert Richard Jones wrote to Walter Calverley Trevelyan: “I lately received a note from my Drawing master J. D. Harding whom I initiated into the Talbotype, and he is enraptured with its capabilities and promised to send me a specimen of some amplifications of it which he has devised; in such hands it is sure to prosper.” In 1850 Harding approached Henneman & Malone, hoping they could produce twenty-five thousand photographic prints 12 x 10 inches in size for an intended publication, but Malone wisely confessed to Talbot that an order of this magnitude would be impossible for the fledgling firm. None of Harding’s calotypes are known to have survived.
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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