The cyanotype—a form of early photography developed in the mid-1800s that gives images a distinctive blue tone—has never received significant museum attention in the US. This weekend, the Worcester Art Museum will open Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period, the first major exhibition on the subject. The show will cover the full range of the cyanotype’s history, from early photographers Anna Atkins, Edward S. Curtis, and Arthur Wesley Dow to contemporary artists reviving the process.

At the heart of the exhibition is a group of cyanotypes taken by Worcester-based photographer Frederick Coulson at the turn of the twentieth century, only recently discovered in the museum’s collection. Coulson, son of the gardener for WAM founder Stephen Salisbury, produced a large body of work documenting his hometown, the grounds of the Salisbury estate (now the grounds of the museum), and the people of Worcester. To showcase their collection, WAM has published Frederick Coulson: Blueprints of a Golden Age, a catalogue featuring forty-five Coulson cyanotypes, each with a short description of the photograph’s subject and context written by former WAM director James A. Welu. To purchase a copy of the book, contact the museum shop.

 

 

Photography by Jeremy Linden