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New! Anna Atkins' Botanical Beauties

Today’s editions toe the line between uncomplicated elegance and revolutionary technique. Direct your attention to Leucojam Varium and Sargassum Bacciferum by Anna Atkins, the first person to publish a photo-illustrated book.

Leucojam Varium by Anna Atkins
10"x8" ($24) | 14"x11" ($60) | 20"x16" ($240) | 30"x24" ($800)

Sargassum bacciferum by Anna Atkins
10"x8" ($24) | 14"x11" ($60) | 20"x16" ($240) | 30"x24" ($800)

If you’ve been with us even a short while, you know how much we love art. If you’ve been here a little longer, you may have picked up on our nerdier side. The intersection of science and art is one that has always attracted us—from exploring the far reaches of space to studying dinosaur bones—and it’s at those crossroads we find ourselves today with our Anna Atkins release, Leucojam Varium and Sargassum Bacciferum.

Anna Atkins received an unusually scientific upbringing. Left motherless shortly after her birth in 1799, she was educated by her father, a prominent British scientist. From this education, Atkins found her passion in botany and amassed quite the collection of dried flora. She ran in the same circles with many of the inventive minds of the time, leading her to learn about Sir John Herschel’s cyanotypes and William Henry Fox Talbot’s photograms soon after their creation.

The editions we present here today, Leucojam Varium and Sargassum Bacciferum, are both cyanotype photograms created by Atkins. Cyanotype refers to the developing process: the chemicals used to produce the image result in a rich blue background color. This process was mostly used by engineers to make lower-cost copies of drawings (the word “blueprint” comes from the cyanotype process). However, Anna Atkins brought it to photography by creating photograms—images created by laying objects on light-sensitive paper and exposing them to the sun—using her extensive botanical collection as her subjects.

In 1843, Anna Atkins self-published her cyanoprints in Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, considered the first book illustrated with photographs. Ten years later, she and her friend and collaborator Anne Dixon published two more cyanotype books, focused on flowering plants and ferns. Though used primarily as scientific documentation, the beauty of these delicate images can’t be denied. Whether you’re here for the art, the science, or both, Leucojam Varium and Sargassum Bacciferum are a striking addition to any wall.

With art for everyone,
Team 20x200