1843 - Michael Pakenham Edgeworth photographs of Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford

Michael Pakenham Edgeworth (Irish, 1812 – 1881) the younger half brother of the novelist Maria, made some of the earliest extant photographs in Ireland around 1843.

He studied oriental languages and botany at University in Edinburgh before beginning his career with the East India Company in 1831. His interest in botany led to his experimental work in early photography, with his journals from 1840 detailing his efforts to control the Calotype process in illustrating specimens.

He travelled back from India to the UK on furlough in 1842. Continuing with his photographic work in Ireland, he produced a number of calotype negatives of his home, Edgeworthstown House.

It is known that Pakenham-Edgeworth visited the Brewsters in St Andrews in November 1843, and it is believed that the positives of his Longford images were produced there, which would date the images to early or mid-1843 – very soon after Henry Craigie Brewster’s Cork Calotypes were made.

The prints are preserved in the Brewster Album, compiled by Sir David Brewster, now held at the Paul J. Getty Museum. This album also holds the prints of Henry Craigie Brewster, Sir David’s son.

Images courtesy Paul J Getty Museum

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