Today Google doodles the 216th birthday of Anna Atkins, to commemorate her contribution for connecting photography with science & especially botany.
Images of beautiful ferns, flowers & flora dates back to 18th -19th century and all credit goes to her.
Let’s go back to 18th century when photography, science was at their earliest stage & new ideas methods were in boom.
Born: 16th March 1799, Tonbridge Kent, England
Original Name: Anna Children
Father: John George Children, eminent scientist & secretary of Royal Society, Britain
Husband: John Pelly Atkins- 1825
While in her early 20s, Atkins made drawings for her father’s translation of Jean-Baptiste de Monet Lamarck’s Genera of Shells(1823), but her prime interest lay in the study of botany.
Trained as a botanist, Anna Atkins developed an interest in photography as a means of recording botanical specimens for a scientific reference book, British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. This publication was one of the first uses of light-sensitive materials to illustrate a book. Instead of traditional letterpress printing, the book’s handwritten text and illustrations were created by the cyanotype method.
In 1841, inspired by advice from William Henry Fox Talbot, Anna Atkins took up photography and by 1843 had mastered Sir John Herschel’s cyanotype process. From 1843-1853 she worked consistantly and prodigiously documenting her large collection of seaweed. These cyanotype photograms were released as a 12-part series. Beginning in 1853 Anna Atkins and her childhood friend, Anne Dixon, began to collaborate in creating photograms of ferns, flowers, feathers and lace. While artistic expression was not her original goal in recording the specimans of British algae, many of the plates can be celebrated as much for their imaginative composition and aesthetic appeal as for their scientific intent.
Contribution to World:
Atkins employed cyanotype to record all the specimens of algae found in the British Isles. The first part of her work, entitled British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, appeared in 1843; by 1850 she had produced 12 additional parts. During the next three years, Atkins completed the publication with 389 captioned photograms and several pages of text, of which a dozen copies are known. Despite the simplicity of her means, Atkins’s project was the first sustained effort to demonstrate that the medium of photography could be both scientifically useful and aesthetically pleasing.
After her book on algae, she collaborated with Anne Dixon on
In addition, she published books with non-photographic work
Died: 9th June 1871, She died at Halstead Place in 1871 of “paralysis, rheumatism, and exhaustion” at the age of 72