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Mistakes in the Titles of Crimean War Photographs held in Collections Revisited

In a post to this blog on 18 April 2020, the author described differences in the titles of three Roger Fenton images in Crimean War photographic collections at the Library of Congress (LoC) and the Royal Collection Trust (RTC). This is still unresolved because of ‘lockdowns’ caused by the coronavirus, but Micah Messenheimer at LoC informs me that he is continuing to work on it because of its importance to him and the collection. He is waiting to hear back from the RCT at the moment.

In this post, mistakes in online information provided by the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Centre in Los Angeles for images in its collection taken by James Robertson/Felice Beato photographic team are detailed. The Getty Museum has a collection of 177 images taken by James Robertson/Beato. A photograph of Robertson is shown on the right. Of these 177 images, 76 are of the Crimea taken at the time of the Crimean conflict of 1854-56. Each has a title and a brief description of the image. Of the 76 Crimean images, 49 are not available to view. The actual images of only 27 are available to view and download.

Many of the titles given to the 27 visually available Robertson/Beato Crimean War images in the Getty Museum are not the same as those in the Royal Collection Trust. However, when analysing the titles, differences in wording was ignored by the author if the title was still appropriate for the visual image. Nevertheless, despite this being taken into consideration, the images associated with 13 of the 27 (48%) did not match their titles and descriptions.

Those accessions found with an image not matching the title and description follow: -

Image entitled French Works and Batteries (Acc. No. 84.XM.475.15) should have the more appropriate title View of the Malakoff Battery taken from the Mamelon Vert.

Image entitled Balaklava (Acc. No. 84.XA.619.77) should have the more appropriate title Village and Harbour of Sevastopol with the Huts of the Guards.

Image entitled The End of Balaklava Harbour (Acc. No. 84.XA.886.51) should have the more appropriate title Village and Harbour of Sevastopol with the Huts of the Guards.

Image entitled Interior of the Redan (Acc. No. 84.XA.886.57) should have the more appropriate title Breach in the Redan. Where the great struggle took place on 8th September 1855.

Image entitled Interior of the Redan (Acc. No. 84.XO.1375.24) should have the more appropriate title Bomb Proof Hut of the Russian General in the Redan.

Image entitled Bomb Proof Hut of the Russian General in the Redan (Acc. No. 84.XO.1375.25) should have the more appropriate title View of Sebastopol from the Right of the Redan.

Image entitled Interior of the Mamelon Vert (Acc. No. 84.X0.1375.31) should have the more appropriate title Corner of the Malakoff Battery, Mamelon Vert in the distance.

Image entitled Corner of the Malakoff Battery, Mamelon Vert in the distance (Acc. No. 84.XO.1375.34) should have the more appropriate title Bomb Proof Magazines in the Malakoff Battery.

Image entitled Panorama of Sebastopol from the Malakoff Tower (Acc. No. 84.XO.1375.38) should have the more appropriate title View of Russian hospitals from Fort Paul.

Image entitled View of the Arsenal and Docks (Acc. No. 84.XO.1375.39) should have the more appropriate title Chapman’s Battery, left Attack.

Image entitled View of the Russian Hospitals (Acc. No. 84.XO.1375.40) should have the more appropriate title Chapman’s Battery, Left Attack showing part of the Redan.

Image entitled Chapman’s Battery, Left Attack (Acc. No. 84.40.1375.42) should have the more appropriate title Creek Battery from the Garden Battery

Image entitled Sebastopol. From the Left Attack (Acc. No. 84.40.1375.49) should have the more appropriate title Headquarters at Sebastopol. The Getty Museum's website image of Sebastopol. From the Left attack is shown below. It has the description: - Elevated view of Pivdenna Bay, off Sevastopol Bay. Ruined buildings, from both the city of Sevastopol and Russian military fortifications, cover the hilly landscape around the bay. This is one that was clearly not correct.

In the above cases, a mix-up in images, possibly when they were transferred to the website, may be the cause of the errors. The titles suggested as being more appropriate above were found associated with other photographs in the Crimean War collection of Robertson/Beato in the Getty Museum. Some were those of images that were available for view and others from images that were not shown. This strongly suggests that some images not available to view also have the wrong titles. A thorough re-appraisal of all the 76 images and their titles/descriptions needs to be undertaken to resolve this issue.

The author refers those interested to the Getty Museum’s website: -https://www.getty.edu/art/collection/artists/1873/james-robertson-e....

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Comment by David Robert Jones on May 19, 2020 at 8:07

More news on the three Roger Fenton images that differ in their titles in the Library of Congress (LoC) and the Royal Collection Trust (RTC). You may recall that in my previous post: -

Colonel Goodlake at the LoC was entitled Lieutenant Colonel Chapman, C.B., Royal Engineers at the RCT.

Lieutenant Colonel Chapman, C.B., Royal Engineers at the LoC was entitled Major Chapman at the RCT.

Major Chapman, 20th Regiment at the LoC was entitled Captain Gerard Littlehales Goodlake at the RCT.

I have looked more closely at the images and note that the man in the Goodlake portrait at the LoC wears a Guards badge on his cap. Goodlake was in the Coldstream Guards, whereas Lieutenant Colonel Chapman was in the Royal Engineers. This seems to indicate that the LoC identification is correct and the RCT identification incorrect. However, Goodlake was a captain at the time of this photograph and not a colonel as in the LoC title.

In addition, the man identified as Lieutenant Colonel Chapman in the portrait at the LoC has a Royal Engineers cap badge and Lieutenant Colonel Chapman was in the Royal Engineers. Major Chapman was in the 20th Regiment. He has no cap badge. Again, this strongly suggests that LoC's identification is correct and the RCT's is incorrect.

Therefore, it follows that LoC is also correct in its identification of Major Chapman and the RCT wrong in its identification of the same image as Captain Goodlake.

David Jones

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