Children was a prominent member of the British learned societies. Anna became a member in 1839 of the Botanical Society of London created three years earlier. Father and daughter are close to John Herschel and familiar with the work of William Henry Fox Talbot.
At that time the chemists were working hard to define new photographic processes. Herschel invented the cyanotype in 1842. Anna decides to use this new technique to publish her collection of algae. This activity makes her busy from 1843 to 1853. She then continues with ferns.
The dried seaweed was flattened like for a herbarium. Anna does not need a lens to execute her photographs : simply she places the sample directly on the sensitized surface which she exposes to sunlight. Thomas Wedgwood had a similar idea in 1802 but his images disappeared as soon as they were created : the fixing issue was only resolved in the 1820s, by Niepce. Talbot followed with ferns in the early 1840s.
Cyanotype pictures are cyan blue. A label within each image provides the title naming the 389 samples. The photo retains the exact size of the original preparation, on a sheet 26 x 21 cm. The operation is repeated until reaching the required number of copies.
An album with 382 cyanotypes of algae by Anna Atkins, bound in two volumes, was sold for £ 230K including premium by Christie's on 19 May 2004. An album with 102 cyanotypes is estimated € 120K for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on November 11, lot 15 .
SOLD for € 180K before fees