British photographic history

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Photographing Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s S.S. Great Eastern

Colleagues and researchers interested in correspondence relating to Brunel’s commissioning of photographs of the S.S. Great Eastern, may enjoy a blog by Emma Howgill: Photographing Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s S.S. Great Eastern. Images of the correspondence between I K Brunel and Joseph Cundall are also available on the University of Bristol Library Special Collections online archive catalogue (see Emma Howgill’s blog for links).

To whet your appetite part of Emma's blog says: 'Seven months later there is another set of correspondence about these photographs, beginning with a letter from Isambard Kingdom Brunel asking to see the photographs of the Great Eastern under construction (DM1306/11/1/2/folio 72). This set of correspondence ends with two pages of Instructions for Photographs listing exactly how Brunel wants any future photographs to be taken (DM1306/11/1/2/folio 85-86).  And just over a year and a half later, on 9 December 1856, there is a letter from Joseph Cundall of the Photographic Institute in New Bond Street, requesting payment for taking these photographs. Brunel’s letter-books, carefully showing the sequence of all the correspondence that he both sent and received about the Great Eastern allows us to trace the development of Brunel’s idea to illustrate the process of constructing his great ship, from its conception to payment.'

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