Cover image for A world history of photography
A world history of photography
Rosenblum, Naomi.
Personal Author:
Third edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Abbeville Press, 1997.
Physical Description:
695 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 30 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TR15 .R67 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize
TR15 .R67 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
TR15 .R67 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
TR15 .R67 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Encompasses the entire range of the photographic medium, from the camera lucida to up-to-date computer technology, and from Europe and the Americas to the Far East. The text investigates all aspects of photography - aesthetic, documentary, commercial and technical - while placing it in historical context. It includes three technical sections with detailed information about equipment and processes. This edition also updates important new international work from the 1980s and 1990s.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

This highly regarded survey by Rosenblum (A History of Women Photographers) is a standard college text and important reference for the history of photography, distinguished by its international scope. Since its original 1984 publication, it has been translated into French, Japanese, Polish, and Chinese. This update to the third edition, published a decade ago, largely retains the text, organization, and 800-plus mostly black-and-white illustrations of the earlier editions. But more attention is paid to the impact of the Internet and globalization on marketing photography as well as to technological advances like the cell phone. A new chapter on contemporary photographers represents the work of Lara Baladi, M. Couturier, Lalla Essaydi, Paolo Pellegrin, Thomas Struth, and more. The index, bibliography, glossary, and time line provide additional reference value. Larger public and all academic libraries should have at least one recent edition of this essential work.--Nancy B. Turner, Syracuse Univ. Lib., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Independent scholar Rosenblum's history of photography has long been accepted as a standard academic teaching tool on the subject. While addressing the scientific and technical evolution of the process, it primarily provides a contextual study of photography as art, social commentary, and culture. A strong resource on the evolution of artistic form and composition in photography, this book is flawless in its annotation and analysis. The fourth edition, however, does not represent a substantive change from the third (1997). The bibliography has been expanded and the time line and glossary updated; a discussion of digital technology has been added to the final technical history. That said, the text refers only briefly to the effect of digital technology on photography. No mention is made of 21st-century photographers or trends in the field, and the 20th-century section still centers on the period from 1970 to the mid-1990s. Libraries that do not own this work should consider purchasing it, but it is not essential for those that own the third edition. Summing Up: Optional. Lower-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers. T. Scime Amherst Museum



1. THE EARLY YEARS: TECHNOLOGY, VISION, USERS 1839-1875 What is the secret of the invention? What is the substance endowed with such astonishing sensibility to the rays of light, that is not only penetrates itself with them, but preserves their impression; performs at once the function of the eye and the optic nerve--the material instrument of sensation and sensation itself? --"Photogenic Drawing," 1839 In the year 1839, two remarkable processes that would revolutionize our perceptions of reality were announced separately in London and Paris; both represented responses to the challenge of permanently capturing the fleeting images reflected into the camera obscura . The two systems involved the application of long-recognized optical and chemical principles, but aside from this they were only superficially related. The outcome of one process was a unique, unduplicatable, laterally reversed monochrome picture on a metal plate that was called a daguerreotype after one of its inventors, Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre (pl. no. 1) (see Profile) . The other system produced an image on paper that was also monochromatic and tonally as well as laterally reversed--a negative. When placed in contact with another chemically treated surface and exposed to sunlight, the negative image was transferred in reverse, resulting in a picture with normal spatial and tonal values. The result of this procedure was called photogenic drawing and evolved into the calotype, or Talbotype, named after its inventor, William Henry Fox Talbot (pl. no. 2) (see Profile) . For reasons to be examined later in the chapter, Talbot's negative-positive process initially was less popular than Daguerre's unique picture on metal, but it was Talbot's system that provided the basis for all substantive developments in photography before the advent of digital images. By the time it was announced in 1839, Western industrialized society was ready for photography. The camera's images appeared and remained viable because they filled cultural and sociological needs that were not being met by pictures created by hand. The photograph was the ultimate response to a social and cultural appetite for a more accurate and real-looking representation of reality, a need that had its origins in the Renaissance. When the idealized representations of the spiritual universe that inspired the medieval mind no longer served the purposes of increasingly secular societies, their places were taken by paintings and graphic works that portrayed actuality with greater verisimilitude. To render buildings, topography, and figures accurately and in correct proportion, and to suggest objects and figures in spatial relationships as seen by the eye rather than the mind, 15th-century painters devised a system of perspective drawing as well as an optical device called the camera obscura that projected distant scenes onto a flat surface (see A Short Technical History, Part I) --both means remained in use until well into the 19th century. Realistic depiction in the visual arts was stimulated and assisted also by the climate of scientific inquiry that had emerged in the 16th century and was supported by the middle class during the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th century. Investigations into plant and animal life on the part of anatomists, botanists, and physiologists resulted in a body of knowledge concerning the internal structure as well as superficial appearance of living things, improving artists' capacity to portray organisms credibly. As physical scientists explored aspects of heat, light, and the solar spectrum, painters became increasingly aware of the visual effects of weather conditions. Excerpted from A World History of Photography by Naomi Rosenblum All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.