Thomas Ruff/Linnaeus Tripe

The work of Linnaeus Tripe was on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum when I visited shortly after the gallery was reopened.  Captain Linnaeus Tripe went to India and what was then Burma to carry out a military survey.  His photographs, originally created for recording purposes only, became to be viewed as works of art in their own right. Tripe used waxed paper negatives known as “calotypes”, rather than moving onto the more popular medium: glass negatives.  He was concerned they were more likely to get broken, and more difficult to transport.

Tripe often enhanced his negatives.  For example, when photographing a scene the cloud detail was often lost because of the length of time the shutter remained open during the process.  He would then add detail, such as the clouds, to the negative.  Then every print taken from that negative would contain this detail.

Ruff studied these negatives by enlarging them, so that every detail could be seen clearly.

Ruff was drawn to the scale, beauty and aesthetics of Tripe’s negatives – specifically the way in which discolouration and damage to the paper mark the passage of time.  He was also fascinated by Tripe’s early “retouching” processes, in particular his painting the reverse of negatives to add different effects, such as clouds and foliage. [accessed 21/10/19]

The curator’s description of the work.

20181102_143757 (2)

2019-10-22_17-10-27 [accessed 22/10/19]


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