British photographic history

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The Pictorialist Movement in photography took place in a parallel time frame to the Arts and Crafts Movement. However, though both were shunned by the academic arts establishment, the A&C movement never embraced photography, perhaps in small ways, but never fully. My take on this is that the A&C Movement was fully engulfed in Medievalism, which was antithetical to photography.

There were separate movements in Pictorial Photoraphy like the Photo-Secession or the Linked Ring, but, I cannot recall any partnering among these and the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Any comments?

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Comment by Richard Sullivan HonFRPS on April 14, 2020 at 20:42


Typos not a worry. Me too!

My wife and I founded Bostick & Sullivan over 40 years ago, so I have had some experience with process photography. I have had an upside down look at photo history, that is from an intimate perspective on how a print is made and what restraints a photographer works against. That is from two different conceptual realms: subjective -- the image, and objective -- the print. We are rapidly losing the latter. 

I am currently writing a memoir -- isn't everyone??

The other I am working on is a book of essays on photo history.

Comment by Anne Strathie on April 14, 2020 at 18:01

P.S. excuse typos in last post, just dashing out! Anne

Comment by Anne Strathie on April 14, 2020 at 18:00

Hi, Dick

It sounds as if you're embarking on a wide-ranging project, so hope it goes well ... coming from an art-historical background, I tend to regard movements as fairly fluid entities which sometimes seem more full-formed with hindsight than they were at the time (e.g. Emerson shifted his position several times)well). All the best - and, like you, I hope the libraries open again soon! Anne 

Comment by Richard Sullivan HonFRPS on April 14, 2020 at 17:50

Ms Strathie,


There was much back and forth between the major photographers of the period.  Frederick Evans' work at Kelmscott in particular stands out. It is hard to find a living creature in Evans' photographs.

I was recently reading A.S. Byatt's Peacock and Vine, it is rather fragmented but worthy of a read.

I am exploring some theories about Pictorialism, both from experience, and what the Pictorialists photographers were writing  to each other: among them H. Hinton, Dow, P. Anderson, Robinson, and some others.

This, a decade ago, got me thinking:

This is where style is rooted: how you engage a process is often more personal than what you choose as subject matter. Chuck Close, Quoted in The Alternative Avant-garde, Lyle Rexler.

As Goethe said: And I paraphrase: "Restraints make the art." And process is personal, and if process in early photography was a restraint, then what I was taught is wrong. 

In previous lectures I have quoted Close, and among the young who have recently been infected with academic post-modernism, this is not taken kindly. I will forgo further defense of this, which is backed up by Pictorialist's texts.

Of course, Morris': Only useful or beautiful... allows photography as it is useful, and then offers us a choice, is the photograph itself beautiful, or is it what the photograph is of? As I have explored, and given it further thought, I see no outright banishment of photography by the A&C movement, I do, however, see an arms length relationship.

And yes, The Studio did some wonderful editions, there was one on color photography as I recall and thanks for reminding me. I just checked and its digital Google copy is missing from my database, and I need to replace it. 

As one can see, I am still working on these ideas.



Comment by Anne Strathie on April 14, 2020 at 15:03

To add a bit more background to the comment below, a chapter on photography by Martin Barnes in the catalogue of the V&A’s 2005 exhibition on ‘International Arts and Crafts’ also mentions:

  • Photography was featured in magazines in UK and US including The Studio and The Craftsman.
  • Some photographers were influenced by A&C principles including Harry Peach Robinson and Peter Henry Emerson.
  • Photographs were shown in the A&C Exhibitions in London as illustrations of architecture, furniture or design
  • Frederick Hollyer (as mentioned below) and Frederick H Evans were both part of A&C circle. Evans took photographs of Morris's Kelmscott Manor

Also, George Walton, who was influenced by William Morris, designed exhibition display stands for the LRB (via George Davison), then went on to design Kodak showrooms in London and all over the world. With thanks to Arts & Crafts expert Mary Greensted for looking out her 2005 exhibition catalogue - I'm also personally interested in Walton as we have a house interior by him in Cheltenham which bears resemblances to some of this Kodak showrooms.

Comment by Anne Strathie on April 14, 2020 at 14:52

I found a photograph of William Morris by Frederick Hollyer, who, according to his Wikipedia entry at least, appears to be associated with the Linked Ring Society;

I don't have time to do it at the moment, but it might be interesting to look at photographs of Morris and others to check the photographers against LRB and Secession listings.

Comment by Mark Katzman on March 30, 2020 at 18:47

If you email me at I can email info...

Comment by Richard Sullivan HonFRPS on March 30, 2020 at 17:36


Thanks for the tip. Like the rest of the world, I am currently in solitary confinement. No libraries open, or at least one available that would have this volume. I did find a new copy online at $96.00. Not going there, yet. No used ones showed up in I found vol 2, and bought it for $15.00 including shipping. I figured it would be a useful addition. 

Can you put into a sentence or two Peterson's thesis on this.


Comment by Mark Katzman on March 30, 2020 at 16:44

You might find this interesting: Peterson, Christian A. "The Photograph Beautiful 1895–1915." History of Photography. 16.3 (1992): 189-232. 


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