The son of prominent naturalist and optician Andrew Pritchard, Henry Baden Pritchard was born in the London district of Canonbury on November 30, 1841. He studied chemistry in Lausanne and Eisenach, and at the age of 20, he became employed by the War Department. He was the superintendent of its photography division, a position he held until his death. In 1873, he married Mary Evans and began raising a family.
As a photographer for the War Department, Mr. Pritchard faced considerable challenges. For example, his paper had to be sensitized overnight, and it took between four and five hours for his assistants to prepare approximately 60 sheets. Early the following morning, the prepared sheets were rolled in blotting paper to protect from the sunlight while being transported to the next military installation. After being toned and retouched, the prints had to be washed, preferably for two to three hours, but when they were needed immediately, a quick rinsing had to suffice. The impressive prints Mr. Pritchard was able to produce, despite the difficult circumstances, were truly amazing, and were attributed in large part to his superior knowledge of chemistry.
Mr. Pritchard's prints won him the admiration of his contemporaries, and he became active in several organizations. He became a member of the Royal Photographic Society in 1868, elected to Council two years' later, and was named Honorary Secretary in 1872. Also in 1872, he was elected a Fellow of the Chemical Society. He was published extensively in the Society's journal, and in 1880 following the death of G. Wharton Simpson, Pritchard assumed the editorial reins of the Photographic News. During Mr. Pritchard's tenure, the journal’s topics were expanded to include news and scientific reporting. A compilation volume on his original Photographic News texts were published in 1882 as The Photographic Studios of Europe.
The constantly busy Mr. Pritchard somehow found time to pen novels and write a play. In addition, he edited the Year Book of Photography from 1881 to 1884 and contributed to several scientific and technical journals. His latest was his accounts of the photographic aspects of a trip to Algeria which were published in the photographic news in February and March. Upon leaving the Royal Academy on a rainy spring day in 1884, Mr. Pritchard caught a cold that progressed rapidly to pneumonia. Much to the shock of his family, friends, and professional colleagues, 43-year-old Henry Baden Pritchard died at his home in Blackheath, Greenwich on May 11, 1884.
1868 Chemical News and Journal of Industrial Science, Vol. XVII (London: Henry Gillman, Boy Court, Ludgate Hill, E.C.), p. 300.
2008 Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, Vol. I (New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group LLC), pp. 1175-1176.
1884 The Philadelphia Photographer (Philadelphia: Benerman & Wilson), p. 498.
1884 The Photographic Times, Vol. XIV (New York: Scovill Manufacturing Company), p. 285.
1884 The Year-Book of Photography and Photographic News Almanac for 1884 (London: T. Piper), p. xcviii.
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