in his Curiosities of London, 1855, pp. 252-3
The Diorama, on the eastern side of Park-square, Regents-park, was exhibited in Paris long before it was brought to London, by its originators, MM. Bouton and Daguerre; the latter, the inventor of the Daguerréotype, died 1851. The exhibition-house, with the theatre in the rear; was designed by Morgan and Pugin: the spectatory had a circular ceiling, with transparent medallion portraits; the whole was built in four months, and cost £10,000. The Diorama consisted of two pictures, eighty feet in length and forty feet in height, painted in solid and in transparency, arranged so as to exhibit changes of light and shade, and a variety of natural phenomena; the spectators being kept in comparative darkness, while the picture received a concentrated light from a ground-glass roof.
John Timbs (18011875) should be counted as an invisible contributor to H and A. Gernsheims Histories of Photography. For it will be noticed that the above information on the Diorama building in London forms a substantial part of the account provided by Helmut Gernsheim in his book on L. J. M. Daguerre: The History of the Diorama and the Daguerreotype, although Gernsheim does not cite his source. Again, Gernsheim happens not to provide any source for his account of the earliest use of the Daguerreotype in England and the part played by St Croix in London in 1839, although it is clearly dependent on the account given by Timbs in his Stories of Inventors and Discoverers of Science and the useful arts of 1860!
Timbs was indeed a prolific writer and editor. It should be his due that some notice be taken of him in relation to the historiography of the History of early Photography.
Very basic biographical and bibliographic information on him can be found in the following:
J. R. M. [J. R. Macdonald], Timbs, John (18011875), author, Dictionary of National Biography, London: Smith Elder 1898, Vol. lvi, 4023;
S. A. Allibone, A Critical Dictionary of English Literature, (3 Vols 185971), Vol. 3;
J. F. Kirk, A Supplement to Allibone’s Critical Dictionary of English Literature (2 Vols 1891);
Anon, Illustrated London News, 10 February 1855, vol. 26 (No.727), pp. 1256 (with a portrait of Timbs engraved from a painting by T. J. Gullick).
The Times (London), 1 December 1852
The Times, 5 February 1853
The Times, 13 August 1853
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