Total Solar Eclipse, Chile, April 16, 1893
7 3/4 x 9 7/8 in. image on 10 x 12 in. sheet
gold-toned printing-out paper
printed by Linda Connor, 1995
To celebrate this year’s total eclipse and to support the upcoming 16th year of PhotoAlliance programming, this unique print is offered at $1,600.
About this print
As early as 1969 Linda Connor learned of the historical glass plate photographic archive housed at the Lick Observatory situated in the hills east of San Jose, California – the West’s first large observatory built in 1870.
Connor was drawn to this collection of 19th century research material not so much as a source of scientific proof, but more for the inherent and often overlooked beauty of the objects themselves.
Made in the 19th and early 20th century under the direction of Edward Barnard, Chief Astrophysicist, the pictures of the heavens are awe inspiring and also seemed to be made with a consideration of the entirety of the sky we see from earth as a form of ‘landscape’.
Starting in 1995, she worked out an agreeable relationship with the observatory to craft a limited series of prints from the original and very fragile plates.
Exposures were made on antiquated printing-out-paper where no developing agent is used, rather the plates are place in contact with the paper and sunlight leaves an image after a lengthy time. The prints are fixed and then protected with atoning bath of gold chloride. Giving them their marvelous shade of maroon color similar to an albumen print.
Astronomers from the Observatory traveled to a remote location in Chile when the opportunity presented itself to document the April 16, 1893 total solar eclipse. At some time between then and the plates printing the glass was broken giving the image an unintended white line circumnavigating across the page. Date and location are hand-written and appear reversed due to the direct contact-printing method used to produce the final paper print.
The printing paper is no longer made, and this single copy of the ‘collaboration’ between scientist and artist is all that remains.