The J. Paul Getty Museum

[Arrangement of Specimens]

Object Details


[Arrangement of Specimens]


Hippolyte Bayard (French, 1801 - 1887)




Paris, France (Place Created)


about 1842



Object Number:



27.7 × 21.6 cm (10 7/8 × 8 1/2 in.)

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Object Description

This image is an early example of a scientific fundamental of photography--the light sensitive nature of certain chemical compounds. Without the use of a camera or lens, Hippolyte Bayard carefully arranged a delicate selection of laces and flora on a sheet of paper that was made sensitive to light with a combination of iron salts that produced a blue-toned cyanotype when developed. The sheet of sensitized paper with the objects placed upon it is exposed to sunlight in order to make a camera-less photogenic drawing.

The opacity of the object blocks the light in relation to its density, thus creating a silhouette of the object on the paper. Because the process was relatively uncomplicated, cyanotypes provided a quick method of recording easily recognizable shapes and patterns. Bayard filled the entire sheet of paper, creating a catalog of specimens that reveals the basic structure of each flower, leaf, feather, and scrap of fabric.

Experimental Photography: Discovery and Invention (January 17 to April 2, 1989)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), January 17 to April 2, 1989
Photography Until Now (February 14 to August 19, 1990)
  • The Museum of Modern Art (New York), February 14 to May 29, 1990
  • The Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland), June 27 to August 19, 1990
Arrows of Time: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (January 24 to April 2, 1995)
  • Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at UCLA (Los Angeles), January 24 to April 2, 1995
Photographers of Genius (March 16 to July 25, 2004) (Rotation 1: 3/15/04 - 4/19/04)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 16 to July 25, 2004

Gautrand, Jean-Claude. Hippolyte Bayard: naissance de l'image photographique (Paris: Trois Cailloux, 1986), pl. 2.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 287, ill.

Education Resources
Education Resources

Education Resource




A Natural Balance in Photography and Poetry

Students brainstorm adjectives to describe early photographs/cyanotypes, create a cyanotype and write balanced poetry using the adjectives.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts


Three/Five-Part Lesson