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The Chess Players

A work made of salted paper print.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of salted paper print.


c. 1843/47


William Henry Fox Talbot
English, 1800–1877

About this artwork

The negative-positive process created by William Henry Fox Talbot, and the possibilities for reproduction that it introduced, dominated photography until the digital age. Talbot’s initial experiments show both his interest in science (as he worked to refine his process) and his artistic aspirations. Scholars have confirmed that Talbot took 10 or more views of chess players, yet this one—likely of noted photographer Antoine Claudet and Talbot’s assistant Nicolaas Henneman—may not be his. This print and other variants of the same scene are unsigned, and on a different paper from Talbot’s normal stock. Recent scholarship posits that the images might have been made in Claudet’s studio before ending up in Henneman’s possession; this print could have entered Talbot’s holdings when Henneman gave him prints as payment toward a debt.


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Photography and Media


William Henry Fox Talbot


The Chess Players


England (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1838–1852


Salted paper print


19.9 × 15 cm (7 7/8 × 5 15/16 in.)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Everett Kovler

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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