British photographic history

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Benjamin Brecknell Turner & Amsterdam

According to the V&A records, Benjamin Brecknell Turner (1815-94) was one of the first, and remains one of the greatest, British photographers. His images were highly praised during his lifetime for their rustic beauty and grandeur.

Born in London in 1815, Turner started work in the family candle and saddle soap business at the age of 16. In 1849 he took out a licence to practice paper negative photography from its inventor, William Henry Fox Talbot, when the new art was barely 10 years old. He mastered the art and exhibited at the world's first public photographic exhibition, held at London's Society of Arts in 1852, where he was singled out as one of the best contributors. In 1855 he won a medal at the Paris Exhibition Universelle and continued exhibiting his photographs until the 1880s.

If you are a fan of his work, you are in luck as there is an exhibition entitled "Amsterdam 1845 – 1875, The First Photographs", well, held in where else, but Amsterdam ! Pride of place is reserved for the sixteen large format paper negatives of Amsterdam landscapes taken by Turner during his visit to Amsterdam in 1857. Details of this exhibition can be found in the 'Events' section.

Photo: Benjamin Brecknell Turner, 'Self Portrait', about 1855. Anonymous loan(V&A)

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