History of Photography

Introduction. History of Photography (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

A World History of Photography (by Naomi Rosenblum)

The Story Behind the Pictures 1827-1991 (by Hans-Michael Koetzle)

Photographers' Dictionary.
(based on "20th Century Photography - Museum Ludwig Cologne")



Photographers' Dictionary

(based on "20th Century Photography-Museum Ludwig Cologne")





(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Roger Fenton (March 20, 1819 - August 8, 1869) was a pioneering British photographer, one of the first war photographers.
Roger Fenton was born in Heywood, Lancashire. His grandfather was a wealthy Lancashire cotton manufacturer and banker, his father a banker and member of Parliament. Fenton was the fourth of seven children by his father's first marriage. His father had 10 more children by his second wife.
In 1838 Fenton went to University College London where he graduated in 1840 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, having studied English, mathematics, literature, and logic. In 1841, he began to study law at University College, evidently sporadically as he did not qualify as a solicitor until 1847, in part because he had become interested in studying to be a painter. In Yorkshire in 1843 Fenton married Grace Elizabeth Maynard, presumably after his first sojourn in Paris (his passport was issued in 1842) where he may briefly have studied painting in the studio of Paul Delaroche. When he registered as a copyist in the Louvre in 1844 he named his teacher as being the history and portrait painter Michel Martin Drolling, who taught at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, but Fenton's name does not appear in the records of that school. By 1847 Fenton had returned to London where he continued to study painting now under the tutelage of the history painter Charles Lucy, who became his friend and with whom, starting in 1850, he served on the board of the North London School of Drawing and Modelling. In 1849, 1850, and 1851 he exhibited paintings in the annual exhibitions of the Royal Academy.
Fenton visited the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in London in 1851 and was impressed by the photography on display there. He then visited Paris to learn the waxed paper calotype process, most likely from Gustave Le Gray, its inventor. By 1852 he had photographs exhibited in England, and travelled to Kiev, Moscow and St. Petersburg making calotypes there, and photographed views and architecture around Britain. He published a call for the setting up of a photographic society.
In 1855 Fenton went to the Crimean War on assignment for the publisher Thomas Agnew to photograph the troops, with a photographic assistant Marcus Sparling and a servant and a large van of equipment. Despite high temperatures, breaking several ribs, and suffering from cholera, he managed to make over 350 usable large format negatives. An exhibition of 312 prints was soon on show in London. Sales were not as good as expected, possibly because the war had ended. According to Susan Sontag, in her work Regarding the Pain of Others (ISBN 0-374-24858-3) (2003), Fenton was sent to the Crimean War as the first official war photographer at the insistence of Prince Albert. The photographs produced were to be used to offset the general aversion of the British people to an unpopular war, and to counteract the antiwar reporting of The Times. The photographs were to be converted into woodblocks and published in the less critical Illustrated London News and published in book form and displayed in a gallery. Fenton avoided making pictures of dead, injured or mutilated soldiers.
Due to the size and cumbersome nature of his photographic equipment, Fenton was limited in his choice of motifs. And because of the not very photosensitive material of his time, he was only able to produce pictures of unmoving objects, mostly posed pictures. But he also photographed the landscape, including an area near to where the Light Brigade - made famous in Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade" - was ambushed, called The Valley of Death; however, Fenton's photographs were taken in the similarly named The Valley of the Shadow of Death. Two pictures were taken of this area, one with several cannonballs on the road, the other with an empty road. Opinions differ concerning which one was taken first. Filmmaker Errol Morris wrote a series of essays canvassing the evidence. He concluded that the photo without the cannonballs was taken first, but he remained uncertain about who moved the balls onto the road in the second picture - were they deliberately placed on the road by Fenton to enhance the image, or were soldiers in the process of removing them for reuse?
Several of Fenton's pictures, including the two versions of The Valley of the Shadow of Death, are published in The Ultimate Spectacle: A Visual History of the Crimean War by Ulrich Keller.
In 1858 Fenton made studio genre studies based on romantically imaginative ideas of Muslim life, such as Seated Odalisque, using friends and models who were not always convincing in their roles.
Fenton is considered the first war photographer for his work during the Crimean War, for which he used a mobile studio called a "photographic van". In recognition of the importance of his photography, Fenton's photos of the Crimean war were included in the collection, 100 Photos that Changed the World.




The Terrace and Park, Harewood House, 1861.
Albumen print. Royal Photographic Society Bath, England.


Col. Doherty, Officers & Men, 13th Light Dragoons, 1855


Seated Odalisque


Pasha and Bayadère


Egyptian Dancing Girl, 1858


View from Ivans Tower, Kremlin, 1852


South Front of the Kremlin from the Old Bridge, 1852


Lichfield Cathedral: Portal of the South Transept


The Harbour of Balaklava, the Cattle Pier


View on the Ribble


External walls of the Kremlin, Moscow


British troops in the Crimea


The Double Bridge on the Machno


Zouave, 2nd Division


The Valley of the Shadow of Death


Vista, Furness Abbey


Glastonbury Abbey, Arches of the North Aisle


Still life


Salisbury Cathedral: The Spire
c. 1860


Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Isle


Still life with Statue


On the Llugwy, near Bettws-y-Coed


The Long Walk, Windsor


The Billiard Room, Mentmore


Col. Doherty, Officers and  Men, 13th Light Dragoons


Colonel Hallewell and servant


4th Light Dragoons


Piling Arms


Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

| privacy