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HomeContents > People > Photographers > James Contencin

Dates:  1814 - 1879
Active:  UK

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for James Contencin
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Serious amateur photographers often regarded their art to be the making of the negative, and left the printing to specialists. As a stationer in London, Contencin was ideally positioned to observe the increasing demand for papers intended for photographic use, and he became a professional photographic printer during the 1850s. Although most of his extensive exhibition work was in collodion, he contributed a calotype copy of a monumental tablet to the 1854 exhibition of the Photographic Society in London. In 1860, even as Contencin published photographic views of Streetley Church in Derbyshire, he was already aware of the changes looming for photography. Three years earlier he had begun experimenting with producing photographic woodblocks, in which the image was created by the sun but the final engraving was done by hand. He contributed three of these to the 1858 exhibition of Photographic Society in London. Contencin also displayed several photolithographic copies of drawings in the 1862 International Exhibition in London. 
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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