How is it to be the first human figure on a photographic image? First ever photographed and printed on a photographic paper, it is something or not?
Talbot, one of the inventors of photography, produced the first negatives on paper as early as 1834. He published his negative-positive process in 1839, but the materials were too slow and exposure times were too long to permit the photography of human beings (or anything else that moved). On September 23, 1840, Talbot invented the calotype process which worked by developing the latent image of a briefer exposure. On October 10, the inventor used this new process to make a small experimental portrait of his wife, Constance. Four days later, this first important calotype composition was executed. The negative was made in three minutes, according to a notation on another print that Talbot sent to Sir John Herschel (a print now in the Gernsheim Collection at the University of Texas.)
The print shown here is on paper bearing the watermark “J. Whatman 1839.” Its delicate tones of pink and mauve indicate it was stabilized with common salt rather than fixed with the “hypo” solution discovered by Herschel (and later universally adopted.) The image is kept in the dark and viewed only in subdued light.