Human skull close-up – Van Dyke Brown


Human skull close-up – Van Dyke Brown – ref. n. VD-1-11-2021

Van Dyke Brown contact print from wet plate collodion negative on Rosaspina unseized paper

Gold toned

Sheet size is 35×45 cm (circa 14×18 in); image size is from 30×40 cm wet plate collodion negative (circa 12×16 in) and spreads beyond glass negative border.

Year created: 2021

Open edition.

Product image colors and contrasts may differ to original art piece due to screen calibration.


This print is part of the ‘Bones’ project. Bones project is inspired by the ‘straight photography‘ movement of Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston and Ansel Adams. Subjects are photographed at a close distance, on an overall blank or empty background, to show their shape and structure. The beauty of the subject itself makes the picture.

Bones project is made on tintype, ambrotype and prints. Prints can be made on Rosaspina or Artistico papers, with cyanotype process, Van Dyke brown, salt paper, kallitype, carbon.

The photograph of this actual sale was shot on a wet plate collodion negative, a process rooted at the dawn of photography, on the year 1851. The negatives are made on glass plates of 30×40 cm size (12×16″). Such a negative is then printed on various alternative photographic techniques. They can be cyanotype, Van Dyke brown, salted paper, kallitype, carbon and so on. All these photographic processes are also rooted at the dawn of the photographic printing process, just before the advent of silver gelatine.

This work of art is printed with Van Dyke Brown process

The Van Dyke image has the so called Van Dyke brown color when it’s done. It’s a sort of very dark  brown hue, with reddish-greenish tones. 

The Van Dyke brown process was patented in Germany in 1895 by Arndt and Troost. It was originally called many different names, such as sepia print or brown print. It has even been called kallitype, but the latter is a process involving different chemicals.

If properly processed, with gold or platinum-palladium tonings, a Van Dyke brown print is due to last as long as any other silver process print known so far.

Archival processing

The print undergoes an archival processing specifically designed for this kind of photographic printing process. Then it’s trademarked with my press seal ‘Michele Pero Photography’.

Archival processing is designed to extend life of the print to the maximum possible. Nevertheless it is recommended to showcase the work of art away from direct sunlight.

My Van Dyke prints are mostly gold toned for maximum archival stability. Gold toning also gives a colder look to brown hue. Sometimes I tone in selenium, which gives warm browns. You can check toning type in the description of the actual item.

Rosaspina and Artistico papers

This work can be available on two kinds of papers: Fabriano Rosaspina and Fabriano Artistico, at my own choice and inspiration. Artistico is smooth. The print looks sharper. Prints made on Artistico papers are more photographic-looking, closer to a modern print.

Both papers are museum-quality papers from the Italian paper mill Fabriano. I only use heavy weight paper, such as in the range of 285-330 gr/sqm. Rosaspina performs a coarse grain surface, as rough as raw paper. The image looks printed inside the texture of the paper, as it is indeed. I like this kind of result because ancient printing techniques should show the primitive essence of imagery, in my opinion. Such a raw texture meets perfectly my goal and inspiration while making this project.

Check item description for the specific support of this actual item.

Floating frame

The work of art is showcased as mounted on an original frame of my own concept, called ‘floating frame’. Such a framing holds the print at a distance from the back of the frame. The sheet is kept in position by eight L-type brass-coated hooks. The frame is made of raw wood and it is painted in black.

Frame is for description only, It is not included in this product sale. You can find it in a separate section of this Shop.


Entire sheet is roughly 35×70 cm (13.78×17.56 in). Papers are hand made, so consider a little difference with the standard measures may occur from print to print.

Blueprint area is hand-brushed, so it’s difficult to say the actual size. It’s indeed roughly 2-3 cm (1 inch) larger than the negative size.

Negative size (image) is sharply 30×40 cm (11.8×15.75 in).

Selling and shipping details

This work of art is sold without the frame. The price is for print only. The frame is available for sale and it is listed on this website shop.

If you have any question for displaying this product please ask.

Ships in a tube, worldwide.