Robinson attempted the impossible, from the technical as well as from the artistic point of view. Twenty years later, when the technical difficulties had been
overcome, he laid down the axiom that no photograph which could be obtained at one operation should be produced from several negatives, and that combination printing should be reserved for those effects that cannot be obtained on one plate, However, he himself did not keep to the rule. ‘Carolling’ (1887) -two girls and a flock of sheep in a landscape – could undoubtedly have been taken at that time instantaneously, and the same could be said of‘When the Day’s Work is Done’ (1877) which was made from six negatives, and many others. Instead of taking pictures, picture-making by photography had become an obsession with Robinson. And Robinson’s word was law, despite an occasional criticism such as that voiced by the editor of the Photographic Art Journal apropos of photography’s claim for recognition as a fine art: ‘These hopes of it must be based, not upon the cleverness of combination printers, but upon improvements in the art itself. We must develop pure photography.’
Sun Artist was the first publication in England to represent ‘the artistic position of photography’. The Journal is a significant example of photogravure in the history of the photographically illustrated book. Sun Artists was published in eight parts between October 1889 and July 1891. Each Issue was devoted to the work of a single British photographer, illustrated by four hand-pulled photogravures, together with an introductory descriptive essay. Particular care was taken by the publisher of Sun Artists to identify the individuals who prepared the photogravures for publication, all leading exponents of photogravure at the time. Mr Dawson of the Typographic Etching Company, himself an acclaimed photographer, made the etchings for Issue 1. Mr Cameron Swan of Messrs Annan and Swan made those for Issues 2, 3, and 4 while the etchings for Issues 5-8 were made by Mr W.L. Colls. (Hannavy V2)
These exceptional issues highlight those men and women who best express the period’s rich Pictorialist dialogue between painting and photography, the rise of the Secession Movement, and a turning point "in the ways photographs were made for the pages of books" (Truthful Lens, 41) – namely in the photogravure process of "printing photographs from an etched copper plate" -as seen in these 32 superb hand-pulled gravures (Harker, 168).
The photographers included are: J. Gale (essay by (George Davison); H.P. Robinson (essay by Andrew Pringle); J.B.B. Wellington (essay by Graham Balfour); Lydell Sawyer (essay by Rev. F.C. Lambert); Julia M. Cameron (essay by P.H. Emerson); B. Gay Wilkinson (essay by Rev. F.C. Lambert); F.W.H. Myers (essay by John Addington Symonds); and Frank Sutcliffe (essay by Charles N. Armfield). Sun Artists was issued in two states, a regular edition and an edition of 100 numbered copies on India proof paper, with the photogravures signed in pencil by the artists, with the exception of Julia Margaret Cameron who had already died.
Nordström, Alison D, Thomas Padon, and J L. Ackerman. Truthbeauty: Pictorialism and the Photograph As Art, 1845-1945. Vancouver, B.C: Douglas & McIntyre, 2008. p 23
Morrison-Low, A D, Julie Lawson, and Ray McKenzie. Photography 1900: The Edinburgh Symposium. Edinburgh: National Museums of Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland, 1994. p. 15 (alt)
Newhall, Beaumont. The History of Photography: From 1839 to the Present. , 2012. 77. (albumen)
The Art Institute of Chicago
McCaully – History of Photography "Writing Photography’s History before Newhall " v 21 n 2 1997
Harker, Margaret. The Linked Ring: the Secession Movement in Photography in Britain, 1892-1910. London: Heinemann, 1979. Print.
Hannavy John. 2008. Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography. New York NY: Routledge.
Gernsheim, Helmut. The History of Photography: The Age of Collodion. London: Thames and Hudson, 1989. p.44
Goldschmidt Lucien Weston J Naef and Grolier Club. 1980. The Truthful Lens : A Survey of the Photographically Illustrated Book 1844-1914. 1st ed. New York: Grolier Club
Weaver, Mike. British Photography in the Nineteenth Century: The Fine Art Tradition. Cambridge [United States: University Press, 1989. p. 157-8