Talbot had a keen interest in botany and horticulture, and trees were one of his favourite photographic subjects. In a letter, dated 18 March 1841, to the eminent scientist and photo-historian Robert Hunt (1807-1887), Talbot wrote that "old oak trees [were] very much to [his] taste"1 and enclosed a few prints, among them an image of an elm tree in winter, which greatly impressed Hunt. Talbot took a number of tree images in winter for he delighted in delineating the intricate detail of the bare twigs, as seen in his Oak Tree in Winter. Of this image Larry J. Schaaf observed, "Majestic and alone, the oak presents itself here as master of the landscape."2
The William Henry Fox Talbot Trust holds the waxed negative and a print; the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, Bradford holds 14 prints; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. holds one; and the J. Paul Getty Museum holds another. This is one of only a few known prints in private hands.
1 L.J. Schaaf, The Correspondence of William Henry Fox Talbot, University of Glasgow, http://www.foxtalbot.arts.gla.ac.uk, document 04218.
2 The Photographic Art of William Henry Fox Talbot, Princeton & Oxford, 2000, p.150.