The image was of the 40ft telescope built by John’s father William, something of a tourist attraction due to its size. By the time this photograph was taken only the telescope support frame remained, with the tube already removed – the structure had begun to rot after years of disuse and John set about dismantling the telescope for the safety of his small children.
A few years later, Herschel discovered the cyanotype or blueprinting process. His friend Anna Atkins used this process to make the first book with photographic illustrations, Photographs of British Algae.
In 1867 another female pioneer of photography, Julia Margaret Cameron, made this extraordinary portrait of the ageing Herschel, who had been a longstanding supporter of her work.
Regular readers of this blog will have noticed by now that I tend to bang on about the Herschel family a lot (like here, or here). It’s rather hard not to, as various members were hugely influential across a wide range of the sciences. And I haven’t even started on the younger members of the family yet … more blogs to follow, no doubt!