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HomeContents > People > Photographers > William Holland Furlong

Other: W. Holland Furlong 
Other: W. Holland Furlonge 
Other: William Holland Furlonge 
Dates:  1826 - ?
Active:  UK

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for William Holland Furlong
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Only a handful of calotypes taken by Furlong have been identified, but his influence on the young art of photography was enormous. Born in Ireland, he and his brother moved to St. Andrews at an early age, apparently without other immediate family members. He must have already been a promising young man, for in 1840, at the age of fourteen, Furlong secured a position as an assistant to Arthur Connell, professor of chemistry at the University of St. Andrews. It was through this connection that he met Sir David Brewster, the Scottish conduit to Talbot’s inventiveness. (Brewster soon grouped Furlong along with John Adamson and Robert Adamson, describing them as Talbot’s “three ardent disciples.”) Furlong himself entered into correspondence with Talbot in order to better understand the fundamentals of the calotype process. In 1843 he made a critical breakthrough, simplifying Talbot’s iodizing method and thereby making the process much more certain in its results. Furlong returned to Ireland sometime in the 1840s, and frustratingly little is known about him after that. He contributed to photographic journals in the 1850s, obviously maintaining his interest in the art and in an 1855 article tellingly praising “the truly beautiful calotype process,” which “perhaps from old friendship, is certainly my favourite process.” In 1876 Furlong renewed his correspondence with Talbot, by then spelling his name as Furlonge (perhaps in a return to the traditional Irish spelling). Although he reminisced about their photographic discussions of the early 1840s, by then Furlong shared a very different passion with Talbot, namely, the scholarly study of Assyriology. 
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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