British photographic history

Information and discussion on all aspects of British photographic history

Online: British Museum collections available

The British Museum has revamped its website and made 1.9 million images of, and from, its collection - including photographs - available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license. Commercial use requires permission and payment of a fee. Reasonably sized files may be downloaded directly from the website. 

Such initiatives are not without their pitfalls. An 1858 photograph described as a stereoscopic daguerreotype on paper (!) is clearly not and a second image is also described as a daguerreotype on paper. However these are minor issues compared with the overall availability of images.

A highlight (shown left) s described as a Calotype c.1868 presented by Rev. J Inglis of a Ni-Vanuatu man, Williamu, posing in front of a neutral studio backdrop, seated in a chair next to a table; he wears a suit and tie.  Elsewhere there is work by Roger Fenton, the London Stereoscopic Company and many others, alongside field photography by museum staff. In addition there some random photography books and periodicals including Geijutsu shashin 芸術写真: The Pictorial Photography Magazine for Photographers (Art Photography. A group of photographs from Jabez Hughes studio in Ryde, IoW.  

See more and explore here:

Images: © The Trustees of the British Museum

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Comment by Michael Pritchard on May 13, 2020 at 13:47

Glad I was of help, Sara. I thought it was a very striking image which is why I thought I would show it. 

Comment by sara stevenson on May 13, 2020 at 13:43

I am delighted to see the photograph of Williamu - it's a portrait I have been looking for. He came to Scotland with Rev John Inglis and was photographed here by Thomas Annan. Annan's trade list of about 1865 includes portraits of both Williamu and Inglis. From the strength and appearance of the image, which compares favourably with Annan's portrait of David Livingstone (see National Galleries of Scotland website), I would think this is the missing Annan. A lovely addition to our knowledge of the man's work. 

With my good wishes to you all

Sara Stevenson

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