A cyanotype of Equisetum sylvaticum, or Wood Horsetail, from 'Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns', made by Anna Atkins in 1853.
Atkins was a pioneering figure in photographic history, having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations - 'British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions' - in 1843.
This image was made by placing the plant specimen on top of light-sensitised paper and then exposing it to sunlight.
The cyanotype process was invented by Sir John Herschel (1792-1871) in 1842 and derived from his observations on the light sensitivity of iron salts. The brilliant blue colour of the resulting prints gives the process its more common name - the blueprint. The process was used for many years to duplicate engineers' drawings.
- Object Number:
- processes and techniques
- image making processes and techniques
- photographic process
- visual and verbal communication
- National Media Museum, Bradford
- National Science and Media Museum
Cite this page
We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.
Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero
Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence
Download catalogue entry as json
View manifest in IIIF viewer
Download manifest IIIF
Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.