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Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

I think Janez Puhar would like those portraits

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I bet majority of my readers has never heard about Janez Puhar and his invention of photography on glass. He lived in first half of 19th Century in Austria-Hungary empire, in the region that is now known as Slovenia. He was fellow Slovenian. He was a priest by his profession and obviously a genius.

Apparently he spoke dozen languages and his letters in six different languages are preserved. He received an acknowledgement for his excellent knowledge of Hebrew. Obviously he spoke also French since it’s written that in 1840 he already made his first daguerreotype. Because he could not afford materials for daguerreotype, he soon started to innovate his own photography process. First records are that in 1841 he already had some successful experiments of photography on glass.

His story is very well presented at the dedicated site http://puhar.si/. Just let me highlight three facts about his career. His problem was that he was not a scientist and his job a priest made him move several times. His invention was introduced to the world too late. In 1851, about ten years after he invented the photography on glass the The Academy of Sciences in Vienna publishes his report on the invention and in the same year his photographs on glass were exhibited at the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations in London. He was presented as “Pucher Johann, Veldes, Upper Carniola, Inventor”. It was accompanied by an explanation that he was displaying photography on glass created with a new method. He was awarded the bronze medal. Year later in 1852 he received an invitation to send his photographs for World’s Fair in New York in 1853. he send several. In year 1852 Puhar received the title of honorary member, and a diploma from the French “Académie nationale agricole, manufacturiere et commerciale”, recognising him, although somewhat late, as the “Inventeur de la photographie sur verre” (the inventor of photography on glass).

So the world heard about Puhar at the time when Fredrick Scott Archer already invented wet plate collodion process that was widely accepted by photographers throughout the world, because of that nobody repeated the process aside Puhar and the invention was forgotten.

Bellow are some images from the exhibition about Puhar with exhibited originals. Few weeks ago there was a symposium about the work of Puhar. I was there with my collodion gear and I made few portraits on glass.

I think Janez Puhar would like them.


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Written by Borut Peterlin

8 September, 2015 at 23:19

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