British photographic history

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Identification: Possible group Photographic Society of London with F.S. Archer? and R. Fenton?

For many years I've been trying to identify the group of men in this stereograph.  The original carries no information. Three of them are holding stereoscopes which suggests a meeting.  I believe the man on the left is Roger Fenton and next to him looks like Frederick Scott Archer.  If this is the case this could well be a meeting of members of the Photographic Society of London in the mid 1850s. 

While it is easy to provide names of members from that time frame, the problem is attaching faces to names.  I'm hoping that perhaps somewhere there is an identified version of this group, or lacking that, that perhaps someone will recognize any of the gentleman. 

Any help or insight will be welcome.  Thank you -- Paula Richardson Fleming

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Comment by Paula Fleming on February 27, 2019 at 11:36

Kevin - Great.  Parsons is a good bet, esp. given his position in both the society and in this group.  I'll ask Denis again, but he's seen it when we were working on the diableries book and no ideas.  

Comment by Kevin Lovelock on February 27, 2019 at 9:10

Sorry Paula, yes I did mean that. The person you say is possibly Archer I think is correct. The person I allude to as possibly being Wheatstone is second on the right. The reason I say that is that two of the group are holding stereoscopes. You may want to contact Denis Pellerin who is an expert in this field. Actually, a bit of a long shot but the large person in the middle may be William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse. He knew Wheatstone well and was President at the Royal Society, he was also instrumental in persuading the Trustees at the British Museum to get Fenton the post of Official Photographer at the Museum.

Comment by Paula Fleming on February 26, 2019 at 18:53

Thanks Kevin - I'll track down more photos of Delamotte.  As for Wheatstone - did you mean 2nd from the left?  I'm pretty certain that's Archer, which started all of this.  Thinking perhaps 2nd from right is Howlett.  This is such an important photograph as I'm sure it is a group of the important London photographers (probably photog. society), but can't quite get a handle on names.  What a resource it would be if we could.  Thanks for everyone's help with this.  Hoping Michael may have some answers with the RPS album.  

Comment by Kevin Lovelock on February 26, 2019 at 15:01

Having studied the photograph(s) above, and trying to match known photographs from the internet, the man on the right could be Philip Delamotte, a well respected photographer of the time. The man next to him (second from the left) looks like Sir Charles Wheatstone who invented the stereoscope.

Comment by Paula Fleming on February 5, 2019 at 15:00

Dear all -- Awhile ago I looked through Seiberling's book but I couldn't quite associate any of those portraits with mine because of positioning etc.  I certainly didn't include Fenton until David's post about a stereo with a different portrait.  Like the possibility that it is Diamond though -- will search further.  Michael - thank you so much!  Will check RPS digitized images (if I can get access w/o membership), otherwise would greatly appreciate it if you would have a quick look to see if any likely candidates.  Alternatively next time I'm over to London maybe I could come up to Bath and search?

   Sophie - Thanks!  I'm having a bit of trouble getting to the Wellcome images.  Some I've been able to pull up separately, but not most of them. Presuming the group portrait is the one of them outside and difficult to identify faces.  I'll keep digging and if that doesn't work will put "feet on the ground" as soon as poss. and go in person.

  I feel this is an important image that if it does turn out are early PS members, the image should go to the RPS.

In the meantime, the hunt continues.

Comment by Sophie Gordon on February 5, 2019 at 8:50

Dear Paula, 

I think the album in the Wellcome Library of the 1856 photographic society is digitised (certainly the few examples I just tried are there), but you have to go through a few links to get to the images.  

The library mark is 'Wellcome Library no. 24570i' and this URL will take you to the full listing:


Comment by Michael Pritchard on February 4, 2019 at 17:58

Just to follow up Steve's comment... the Photographic Society Club albums which have portraits of some of the Photographic Society members c1856 might be useful. I don't think there is a complete digitised version online, but I have photographed one of the albums myself and can try and pull the images together for you. 

Comment by Steve Edwards on February 4, 2019 at 17:54

I suspect the man on the left with the book is Dr Hugh Welch Diamond. A good source with portraits of members is Grace Seiberling's Amateurs, Photography & the Mid-Victorian Imagination, University of Chicago Press, 1986

Comment by Paula Fleming on February 4, 2019 at 11:46

Stephen - Great idea!  He might also have suggestions for some of the other people.  I purposefully didn't add the names of senior members of the photographic society at the time so as not to influence people in their poss. identifications, but think I will do so as progress is slow.  Thanks!

Comment by Stephen Michael Barnett on February 4, 2019 at 8:56

Paula, I wonder if John Hannavy might be of help, he has written about Roger Fenton amongst many others! I note he is a member of this site. (I collect Fenton stereo views). As Fenton died in 1869  he lived to see the Brewster  type of viewer .

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