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Amateurs and Artists: Early photography and Plymouth

Event Details

Amateurs and Artists:  Early photography and Plymouth

Time: April 9, 2011 to July 30, 2011
Location: Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery
Street: Drake Circus
City/Town: Plymouth PL4 8AJ
Website or Map:…
Phone: 01752 304774
Event Type: exhibition
Organized By: Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery/Royal Photographic Society
Latest Activity: Mar 30, 2011

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Event Description

Come and see some of the earliest photographs of Plymouth and discover the part played by the three towns of Plymouth, Devonport and Stonehouse in the development of photography.

Amateurs and Artists focuses on a series of photographs taken by Devonport-born Linnaeus Tripe c.1851-5 for which the City Museum holds the original waxed paper calotype negatives. The exhibition also provides fascinating glimpses into the local and social history of the three towns, the wider region plus the growing fashion for photography from the 1850s onwards.

Our exhibition title dates takes its inspiration from as far back as 1857, by which time William Cox, a Devonport-based Optical and Mathematical Instrument Maker had established a photographic department that catered for both amateurs and artists.

The names Daguerre and Fox Talbot are central to the story of the birth of photography, but close behind come Robert Hunt and Richard Beard, both of whom were from Devonport. Linnaeus Tripe, the soldier son of a Devonport doctor, was typical of the enthusiastic and knowledgeable amateur of the time - and quickly graduated to the status of a respected professional.

Many of Plymouth's first studio photographers also began as amateurs. Plymouth, Devonport and Stonehouse were fast growing naval and garrison towns. There was a ready market for portraits and the number of studios grew quickly. Add to this the coming of the railway, improved access to scenic and landmark locations in the south west and the fashions for taking and collecting photographs of the interesting and picturesque - and see what develops...

This exhibition is supported by the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) Historical Section. The University of Plymouth is hosting an RPS Conference from 13 to 15 May 2011 plus a complementary photographic exhibition, as mentioned in an earlier BPH blog here.


Family-friendly holiday workshop on 13 April and lunchtime talks on 10 May, 14 June and 12 July.

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