British photographic history

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Publication: Ruskin's lost daguerreotypes

The inspiration for this book was a remarkable purchase made by the authors at a small country auction in 2006 for £75,000 (See: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1514218/Mystery-photographs-...). Ken and Jenny Jacobson found that one lightly regarded lot contained a lost collection of daguerreotypes that had once belonged to John Ruskin, the great 19th-century art critic, writer and social reformer. This discovery included scenes of Italy (mostly Venice), France and Switzerland, and has at a stroke much more than doubled the number of known Ruskin daguerreotypes.

Despite his sometimes vehemently negative sentiments regarding the camera, Ruskin’s involvement in photography is now shown to have been much more extensive than previously imagined. He assiduously collected, commissioned and produced daguerreotypes and paper photographs; he pioneered the use of the collotype and platinotype processes for book illustration. Many of the recovered daguerreotypes reveal surprising compositions and have enabled insights into how Ruskin’s use of the daguerreotype influenced the style of his watercolours.

The text includes a fully illustrated catalogue raisonné of 325 known daguerreotypes. The overwhelming majority of the newly discovered plates are published here for the fi rst time. There are an additional 275 illustrations in the text and an essay describing the technical procedures used in a remarkably successful conservation programme.

Ken and Jenny Jacobson met whilst working in the Biophysics Department at King’s College, University of London. Both were drawn to the field of nineteenth-century photographs and redirected their academic curiosity towards the history of photography. After 44 years immersed in the subject, they now find themselves increasingly involved with archives and libraries. Ken’s previous publications, in which Jenny took an active role as editor and advisor, include: Étude d’Après Nature: 19th Century Photographs in Relation to Art; ‘The Lovely Sea-View… Which All London is Wondering at’: A Study of the Marine Photographs Published by Gustave Le Gray, 1856-1858; Odalisques & Arabesques: Orientalist Photography 1839–1925.

Carrying Off the Palaces: John Ruskin’s Lost Daguerreotypes is being published by Quaritch in Summer 2014.

If you would like to be contacted when it is available for purchase at the special prepublication price, please contact: Alice Ford-Smith: a.ford-smith@quaritch.com

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Comment by James Morley on April 6, 2014 at 22:28

The 'l' has got lost from that first link - it should be http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1514218/Mystery-photographs-...

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