After publishing her own book of cyanotype photograms of British algae in the 1840s, Atkins collaborated with her childhood friend and fellow scholar Anne Dixon on a second book of photograms. The book, Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns, was published in 1853 and now resides in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
This particular image is a selection from Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns. A collection of four distinct ferns, it's simply captioned "Ceylon”. At the time these cyanotypes were being made, the island of Ceylon—modern day Sri Lanka—was under British rule. It would be nearly another century before the island declared independence from Atkins’ home country. Despite the abundant difficulties of travel in the 1850s, Atkins’s many scientific and business connections no doubt helped her obtain several foreign specimens for this book of fern cyanotypes.
In the summer of 1852, Anne Dixon and Anna Atkins reunited to mourn the death of Atkins' father, and that sad occasion resulted in some stunning imagery that has only recently begun to get its due: their book Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns is the source for today’s Ceylon. It’s also the source of a fabulous series of images created using objects like peacock feathers and lace, which were presented as a gift to Anne’s cousin Henry Dixon. In her work with Dixon, Atkins moved beyond her interest in botany and scientific documentation to create images that had a bit more flair to them, as evidenced in Ceylon, which is an artfully arranged array of fronds, rather than an example of a single specimen ... Read more from Jen Bekman on the blog!
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