Every summer we can rent a cottage,
in the Isle of Wight, if it’s not too dear
–“When I’m Sixty-Four,” John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Since we’re in the midst of Washington, D.C.’s first genuine heat wave this summer, my mind turns to imagining cooler climes. And, naturally, these daydreams often involve cooling waters. Real travel is not in the cards for me at the moment, so instead I travel virtually via the Library’s collection of gorgeous photochrom prints.
Pictured above is a little cottage in England’s Isle of Wight which has everything my fantasy requires: a porch where I can listen to the gurgle of the stream, which spills into a waterfall, running right outside my door.
Photochroms, dating from the late 19th century, are richly-colored images that look for all the world like photographs but are actually ink-based photolithographs. Like postcards, the photochroms feature subjects that appeal to travelers (and armchair travelers!), and were sold as souvenirs and often collected in albums or framed for display.
Were I to tire of the idyllic scene on my cottage’s porch, I might, in my musings, amble down to the Needles (pictured below) along the coastline. These dramatic rock formations are a fitting contrast to the serene scene of my streamside dwelling.
I tend to favor these scenes free of other people which add a sense of timelessness to the images and to my reverie. But, if your imagination is more social in nature, you can find plenty of people gathering along the seashore, such as these crowds, including horses, on the beach at the Isle of Man. Whatever your preferences, why not indulge yourself in a brief journey in these colorful photochroms?
- Continue your armchair holiday in the Isle of Wight with some 40 colorful photochroms available in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog or branch out to other areas in the British Isles with over 1000 prints in LOT 13415.
- Select another place for a virtual visit in the list of countries presented in the Arrangement and Access section of the Photochrom Prints Collection.
- Learn about the photochrom process which involves the creation of ink-based images produced through the “photographic transfer of an original negative onto litho and chromographic printing plates.”
- View the Library of Congress set of Photochrom Travel Views on Flickr, where you can comment on the images and post your own comparison photos from the present day.