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Exhibition: Seeking Solace: Francis Bedford’s Framing of Victorian Ideals. Photographs from the Steven Evans Collection

Drawn from the extensive private collection of the architectural photographer Steven Evans, Seeking Solace: Francis Bedford’s Framing of Victorian Ideals celebrates the work of English photographer Francis Bedford (1816–1894).  

A master draughtsman and lithographer in the 1840s and 1850s, Bedford took up photography and positioned himself as one of the premier landscape and architectural photographers of his time. He successfully marketed his photographs in the form of albums, stereo cards, cartes de visite, and prints and was included in all but two exhibitions held at the Photographic Society of London during the 1860s. His work comprised picturesque landscapes and ecclesiastical ruins found in the British countryside, as well as impressive cathedral architecture. These subjects suited the tastes of Victorian society, which sought solace within the countryside, away from over-crowded and unhealthy urban centres. Seeking Solace presents this theme in the first solo exhibition of Bedford’s work since the 1860s, introducing this photographer to a North American audience.

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated publication. Both the exhibition and the publication were researched and produced by second-year, graduate students in the Photographic Preservation and Collections Management, Master of Arts programme, Ryerson University, under the direction of Professor David Harris. Over the course of a twelve-week term, the students learn about the researching and curating exhibitions and producing an accompanying publication, from inception to realization. The Howard and Carole Tanenbaum Family Charitable Foundation and the Ryerson Image Centre have generously supported the project. The exhibition will be on view at the I.M.A Gallery, located at 80 Spadina Avenue, from April 4th–28th. An opening reception will be held on April 5th from 6–9 pm.


I.M.A Gallery, 80 Spadina Avenue Suite 305, Toronto ON, Canada

April 4th-28th, 2012, W-S: 12-5 pm.

Opening Reception: April 5th, 6-9 pm. 

Image: Francis Bedford

Miner’s Bridge at Betws-y-Coed, North Wales

1859 (negative exposed)

Mounted albumen silver print


Image: Francis Bedford

Swallow Falls at Betws-y-Coed, North Wales

1859–1864 (negative exposed)

Unmounted albumen silver print


Image: Francis Bedford

Choir Arcade at Tintern Abbey, South Wales

1858 (negative exposed)

Mounted albumen silver print


Image: Francis Bedford

The Sphinx and The Great Pyramid, Gizeh [now Giza]

March 4-5, 1862 (negative exposed)

Mounted albumen silver print

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Comment by Mike Robinson on March 31, 2012 at 19:33

I've watched this show come together,  The students of Ryerson's Photographic Preservation and Collections Management Program under the direction of David Harris and collector Steven Evans have shown great enthusiasm and energy working on this exhibition.  One not to be missed!

Comment by James Kerr on March 28, 2012 at 21:20

Hi Steven,

I know this has been a labour of love on your part - with great input from the students.

A wonderful achievment; I only wish I could get to see it. Any chance it might make it to Europe? 


Comment by clark worswick on March 28, 2012 at 14:17

Steven ...a great work on your part of many decades, and it has been a huge effort as well great collecting ....pulling all these prints together.

Francis Bedford is a photographer who is very important both to the 1850's but also in the 1860's in the corpus of British photography. But whom is it besides yourself who has gone into the Royal Collections and spent time going through each print! 


I hope at the very least you can bring your collection out in an electronic book of your images.

 It is a shame your collection remains unseen because of both the vagaries and politics of sponsorship, and the corrupt academic/commercial "stratagems" extant in the publishing world.   The publishing world, as I see it from having been involved in it for 40 years, is now simply disintegrating.  Perhaps the future of "e-publishing" is brighter, for photography books, than it has ever been for paper based books given that the acutance of the digital reproduction is far great in detail than paper would ever allow.


Bravo Steven!


Abrazos, Clark  

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