'Crater of Vesuvius', 1864
3 2 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 24cm

'Crater of Vesuvius', 1864

© Science & Society


A Woodburytype photograph entitled 'Crater of Vesuvius', taken by James Nasmyth [1808-1890], in 1864. This is an illustration from a book, published in 1874, entitled 'The Moon, Considered as a Planet, a World, and a Satellite' by Nasmyth and James Carpenter [1840-1899], an astronomer at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. The book was based on their observations of the moon through drawings, photographs and models. Plaster of Paris models, produced from Nasmyth's careful drawings, painstakingly recreated all aspects of the moon's surface. These were photographed under controlled lighting conditions, to replicate the effects of light and shadow cast on the Moon as observed through the telescope. A Scottish engineer, Nasmyth is better known for his inventions of the steam hammer and a six-inch diameter reflecting telescope. The Woodburytype was a photomechanical process patented in 1864 by Walter Bentley Woodbury [1834-1885]. It produced high quality images used for book illustration and remained popular until about 1900.

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