Friday, August 19, 2022

The Blueset of Blues

 I really was meant to be a 19th century naturalist!  Our house is filled with collected natural treasures- shells, rocks, bits of seaweed, insects, nests, etc...  I am happiest outside, always observing the big and the small.  I think of Thoreau, "We can never have enough of nature".  

What makes the 18th and 19th century study of Nature so alluring is how it was all interconnected with other sciences, art and literature.  At that time so many naturalists had to be artists and draw their observations.  This biography of Anna Atkins enters just at the time when photography (a burgeoning science of its own!) was being utilized..

The Bluest of Blues
Fiona Robinson 2019

This wonderful book tells the story of Anna's work as a botanist and her use of cyanotypes to publish the first photography book of her collection of seaweed.  The illustrations are in shades of blue with only a pop of momentous red, and best of all many of Anna's cyanotypes are duplicated.  

These "sun prints" are quite easy to make and I love how well they suit botanical treasures.  Fiona Robinson took some liberties with the early unknown years of Anna's life, but she perfectly captured a father sharing his love of discovery and curiosity with his daughter, and the spirit of the times.

"Anna is a treasure hunter.  Anna is an artist.  Anna is a scientist!"

"Her work is both scientific and beautiful."

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