Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, March 13–August 13, 2017
In 1839, shortly after publishing “Some Account of the Art of Photogenic Drawing, or the Process by Which Natural Objects May Be Made to Delineate Themselves without the Aid of the Artist’s Pencil,” William Henry Fox Talbot sent a letter along with thirty-six examples of photogenic drawings to Antonio Bertoloni, a botanist in Bologna, Italy. Talbot undoubtedly desired to alert colleagues to his invention in the wake of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre’s announcement of his own photographic process on January 7th that year, and Bertoloni dutifully assembled the materials into an album for posterity, which the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York acquired in 1936. Known today as the Bertoloni Album, the object has accordingly been examined as a key artifact of photography’s early development and of Talbot’s achievements. Paradise of Exiles: Early Photography in Italy, which was on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from March 13 to August 13, 2017, took this rare document as the starting point for an exhibition that reoriented the conversation by exploring Italy as an important center of exchange during the first three decades of the medium’s history.