British photographic history

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Spain's greatest 19th century British photographer?

Many historians considered Charles Clifford (1821-1863) as probably one of the greatest 19th century photographer Spain has ever come across. He was not a prolific photographer as such as his total production consisted of only a few hundred negatives. But he was one of the few early photographers in Spain with a consistent artistic flare and masterful technique as evident in his images.

From 1850 he worked in Spain, and was court photographer to Queen Isabella II of Borbon. Some of his images of Queen Isabella, as well as Queen Victorian, can be found in the National Portrait Gallery. With his wife, Jane, he would use all the photographic processes available to him in his short lifetime. (He died in Madrid on New Year's Day in 1863 at the age of just 41.) For a few years he employed the daguerreotype and calotype processes in particular, and from 1857 he made albumen prints from wet-collodion glass-plate negatives.

Back in September and October of 1862, Clifford accompanied Queen Isabella II on a trip to Andalucia. Only three of his photo albums which Clifford gave to the Queen are know to exist; one held by the Hispanic Society of America (used in this exhibition); and the remaining two at the Royal Palace in Madrid and National Library respectively. Curated by Ana Gavin, an exhibition of around 40 of these images are now currently on show. The other 20 are of Cartagena and Murcia.

Details of the exhibition can be found here.

Photo: The Plaza de San Francisco in Sevilla, with the Giralda in the background - by Charles Clifford.

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