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#ParoledArchivio H for H.C. White Company

Seeking the third dimension in photography

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11 March Mar 2019 1610 11 March 2019

The stereoscopic view of H.C. White Company, copyright 1902, portrays the southern side of Duomo di Milano with its rising arches and spires. It comprises two collodion prints on cardboard, produced with two different lenses and designed to be used with a dedicated viewer.

Stereoscopy was conceived in 1838 by Sir Charles Wheatston, whose book Philosophical Transactions describes binocular vision, placing the geometrical drawings of the view seen by each eye in a complex machine, which he called “Stereoscope”. In 1939 Wheatston contacted Henry Fox Talbot, one of the fathers of photography, to ask him about the stereoscopic “Talbotypes” in order to clearly illustrate his studies. However, stereoscopy was widely used only about ten years later with the invention of a visor that could be easily used, made up of two lenses and a mobile frame on which the photograph was placed.
The revolutionary idea of stereoscopic photography envisages the creation of an image that conveys the third dimension of human vision, depth.

In 1870 Hawley C. White started his career in a factory producing lenses for spectacles, in New York. In 1874 he moved to Vermont, where he opened a factory that specialised in lenses for the production of stereoscopes. His experience in the preparation of lenses won his instruments acknowledgement as the best on the market. From 1899 Hawley also produced stereoscopic photographs that were an instant success with the public. Indeed, in the early 1900s, the factory created White Travel Tours a collection of stereoscopic views of various cities in the world.

The stereoscopic view reproduced here was donated to the Veneranda Fabbrica’s Archive:
A donation for the Archive: Read about this peculiar image that was added to the Photogallery of the Fabbrica