Convent of St Nicolo d'arena - Etna
28th Augt 1847
My dear Sir/
Your very kind letter expressing surprise at not having heard from me lately, found me, two weeks ago, at Ischia, whither I was obliged to fly from this place in June, to try the baths for a severe attack of sciatica - Two days ago I returned hither - & hasten to acknowledge one box containing copies, & your very kind present of iodised paper. - The other box may be arrived at Malta - but I have not yet heard of it -
In Naples I met with a Sig. Lechi, <1> a Milanese - who is teaching the art at 600 francs - one only lesson: - a poor Optician in Toledo, paid that sum - & by some means obtained the whole process in writing: - from him I have it & have seen some very superior negative & possitives worked by it: - but have yet been too ill to try it myself. I give you the copy overleaf - I have also seen very perfect portraits taken in 40" by Claudet's <2> wet process - equal to Daguerres <3> on metal in detail - I hope to try both methods before I leave the mountain, & to send you specimens - I observe in the copies you send me the skies are discoloured - & that none seem sufficiently cooked in Camera - a defect I will now try to remedy - Lechie's skies are perfect - & he succeeds on paper of very inferior quality - no spots seeming to appear, or injure the process.
Procèdé <4> de M. Lechie - poids napolitain
|No||1 -||8 gram nit. d'argent - 10 oz. eau distillée -|
|2 -||5 gram iodine de potass. 10 oz. eau -|
|3 -||10 oz eau. avec une goutte bromine d'iode -|
|4 -||5 gram. nit argt 2 oz. eau - 15 gr. acide acétique|
|5 -||4 oz. eau satuire d'acide gallique|
|6 -||8 gr. bromine de potass. 4 oz. eau -|
|7 -||forte dissolution de sel marin|
|8 -||5 gr muriate d'ammon. 4 oz. eau|
|9 -||8 gr. nit d'arg. 2 oz. eau|
|10||1 oz. hyposulp. de soude 10 oz. d'eau|
Passer le papier au bain No 1 - 2 fois en le sechant dans le papier buvard - secher - passer au No 2 - ensuite laver a l'eau distille, et secher au papier buvard - Lorsque'on vent operer, on prend une feuille de papier préparé, on le trempe dans le No 3 - il devient noir - on le seche au papier buvard - ensuite on applique avec un pinceau une couche de No 4 et 5, parties égales - et on l'expose encore humide a la chambre obscura - L'epreuve obtenue on la met dans une assiette qui l'on echauffe doucement avec une lampe a esprit de vin, ou l'eau chaude - on passe avec
un pinceau le No4 et 5 partis egales jusque a ce que l'image paraisse - on lave a grande eau, et on fixe avec No6, on laissant le papier pendant 12 min dans cette dissolution - on lave et on [illegible] le No7 chaud - on lave encore, et on séche avec de papier buvard
On passe sur le feuille de papier avec un pinceau le No8 - on seche entre le papier buvard - ensuite on met deux couches de No9 en sechant chaque fois en papier buvard.
Certainly some few of his specimens are more perfect in detail than any I have seen - He is employed now by the King of Naples <5> in copying at Pompeii - but I have some 4 or 5 taken there equal to his. - His advantage seems to be that he makes use of any inferior paper, & is more certain of good productions. - I saw him take 14 one morning at Pompeii without one failure. - If you are writing to Mr Jones <6> pray communicate this - As he has been most kind in giving me all the information he could. - A M. Fays <7> a French amateur I saw much of in Naples - he paid for the process, & succeeds admirably - we went together to Porruchi[?] & Baica & on your last paper I also got some very good negatives in 3' and 4' - morning and evening - but the skies not so dark & uniform as his - nor so free from spots & blemishes - He also takes about the same time. -
At present I am too lame to attempt the Crater <8> again - but I hope to do so before I leave the mountain - for I see my negs give but poor impressions - the dark lava requiring double time. -
From hence all letters are very uncertain especially double ones - so I forbear enclosures - The police have been throwing Maltese letters & papers into the sea - afraid of the reports from Rome - In Calabria there is some stir <9>, but here all quiet - A very strong French fleet at Naples for some weeks past - but not an English ship nearer than Athens. - I am collecting a few seeds for you - & hope you will succeed with the beautiful tree broom, peculiar to Etna - how beautifully it would adorn the plantations of Lacock - & Bowood -<10>
I will take the liberty of writing again to you very shortly - and am my dear Sir very truly Yours
Geo W Bridges
H. Fox Talbot Esquire
2. Antoine Françoise Jean Claudet (1797-1867), London; French-born scientist, merchant & photographer, resident in London.
3. Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851), French artist, showman & inventor.
4. 'Procèdé ... buvard' continues in French: Mr Lechée's[?] method - Neapolitan weights. [Table] No 1 - 8 grams of silver nitrate - 10 oz. distilled water - 2 - 5 grams of potassium iodine. 10 oz. water - 3 - 10 oz water. with a drop of iodine bromide - 4- 5 grams silver nitrate 2 oz. water - 15 gr. acetic acid. 5 - 4 oz. water saturated with gallic acid 6 - 8 gr. potassium bromide. 4 oz. water - 7- strong solution of sea salt 8 - 5 gr. muriate of ammonia 4 oz. water 9 - 8 gr. silver nitrate. 2 oz. water 10 1 oz. hyposulphate of soda 10 oz. of water. [End of table] Pass the paper in the bath of No 1 twice drying it in blotting paper- dry- pass in No 2- then wash in distilled water, and dry in blotting paper - When you want to operate, take a sheet of prepared paper, soak it in No 3 - it turns black - dry it in blotting paper - then apply with a paintbrush a layer of No 4 and 5, in equal parts - and expose the still humid sheet to the camera obscura - The specimen thus obtained is placed in a plate which is softly heated with a wine spirit lamp, or warm water - With a paintbrush apply equal measures of No 4 and 5 until the image appears - wash it with a good deal of water, and fix it with No 6, leaving the paper in this solution for 12 minutes - wash and [illegible] the warm No 7- wash again, and dry with blotting paper. Reproduction. Apply No 8 with a paintbrush to the paper- Dry between sheets of blotting paper- then apply two layers of No 9 drying each time with blotting paper.
5. Ferdinand II (1810-1859).
6. Rev Calvert Richard Jones (1802-1877), Welsh painter & photographer.
7. Possibly A. Fays, Baron of the Empire, French photographer active in the 1850s.
9. This was an unstable period for Italy, Ferdinand II only just avoided a revolution in Sicily the following year.
10. Bowood House, nr Calne, Wiltshire, 5 mi NE of Lacock: seat of the Marquess of Lansdowne.
11. Capt. William Wilson Somerset Bridges (1831-1889), RN. He served on the ships Volage and Hibernia, surveying the Mediterranean.