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HomeContents > People > Photographers > John Frederick Goddard

Other: J.F. Goddard 
Dates:  1795 (check Impressed by Light gives 1797) - 1866
Active:  UK
English chemist who made early and significant contributions to the development of photography.

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for John Frederick Goddard
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Goddard and Talbot shared many interests. In 1838, right on the eve of photography’s introduction to the public, Goddard’s work on the polarization of light was rewarded with the prestigious silver medal from the Society of Arts. Goddard’s polariscope and Talbot’s photogenic drawings were shown side by side in Edinburgh in December 1839. Goddard went to work for the London daguerreotypist Richard Beard and in 1840 discovered the applicability of bromine in sensitizing daguerreotype plates, which so greatly increased the sensitivity of the plates that portraiture immediately became practical. In 1842 Goddard visited Talbot at Lacock Abbey, photographing with both him and Nicolaas Henneman. He returned to London brimming with enthusiasm for the paper negative process, fitting out a special room to conduct further experiments. Although few details of this period are known, something apparently did not work out, and Goddard wound up a minor daguerreotypist in the provinces. In 1863, overenthusiastic supporters credited Goddard with introducing bromine into photography, prompting Talbot to prove that in fact he had done this first with bromine on paper. But Goddard’s application of bromine to the daguerreotype would prove to be a critical underpinning of its commercial success, and a grateful photographic community raised a subscription to provide Goddard with an annuity in his old age. 
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.
If you find any errors please email us details so they can be corrected as soon as possible.

Further research

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Family history 
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Visual indexes

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Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer. Go to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.231 
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