All Posts (36)

Sort by

Ships, trains and glass negatives

12200922064?profile=originalSouth Shields Local History Group is looking for volunteers from outside the group with a knowledge of ships and trains to help identify and research a collection of glass negatives dating from the late 1800s to about 1930.  The photographic images are held in the local history section of the town library in Prince Georg Square. Having just  gained funding from the Community Foundation under its Active At 60 scheme, the images will also be digitised to help the library preserve the glass negatives for future generations.

Anyone interested in becoming involved or wishing to find out more is invited to the library on May 17, between 2pm and 4pm. For information about the photographic collection, contact the Local Studies Library on 424 7860, or log on to The full report can be found here.


Photo:  Anne Sharp of South Shields Local History Group with an old glass photographic plate (The Shields Gazette).

Read more…

12200916277?profile=originalJohn Thomson, a Scot who was born two years before the invention of the daguerreotype and the birth of photography, is considered a pioneer of photojournalism and one of the most influential photographers of his generation.

At that time, foreign travel was much more arduous and rare than it is today, and photography was still in its infancy, requiring a cumbersome mass of equipment. But Thomson, with energy and perseverance, captured a wide variety of images - landscapes, architecture and people from all walks of life - that give us an extraordinary insight into the everyday life and people of 19th century China.

Organised by the School of Culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow, and supported by the Wellcome Trust and Friends of Glasgow Museums, a special symposium to expand on the current Burrell Collection exhibition China through the Lens of John Thomson, 1868-1872 will be held on Saturday 7th May 2011. The one-day event will bring together speakers from the world of visual art and culture to present in-depth discussions on the Scottish photographer John Thomson’s experiments in China, and on his significance as one of the pioneers of documentary photography and photojournalism. The day will also offer an opportunity to see some new images from John Thomson’s glass negatives, never before shown in public.

Details of this symposium can be found here, and the symposium programme here: China%2520Through%2520the%2520Lenses%2520of%2520the%2520Western%2520Photographers.pdf.

You can secure a place at this symposium by contacting The Burrell Collection direct on 0141 287 2593. The accompanying exhibition is on-going, and separate details can be found here.

Read more…

Early Photography 1839-1860

12200912471?profile=originalSome of you BPH members may have already come across this site, but nevertheless, a useful resource for those who haven't.

This national 'on line' catalogue contains art-historical information on the earliest photographs owned by the Rijksmuseum (Rijksprentenkabinet) in Amsterdam, the Print Room of the University of Leiden and 25 other museums, archives and libraries in the Netherlands. The catalogue encompasses more than 3,700 portraits, city views and landscapes from the pioneering period 1839 -1860. These photographs were taken in the Netherlands, France, England, Germany and the United States by both Dutch and foreign photographers. Famous images by photographers such as William Henry Fox Talbot, Edouard Baldus and Gustave Le Gray are found along with the earliest photographs of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Haarlem. Every technique is represented, from daguerreotypes to salted paper prints, glass negatives, paper negatives and photolithographs. The various uses of photographs are also presented; photographs in a case or in a frame; photographs pasted in books or albums; and stereographs. The catalogue contains a wonderful cross-section of photographic production from the pioneering period.

More than 2100 photographs are from the National Photograph Collection in the Rijksprentenkabinet in the Rijksmuseum, which has actively collected international and Dutch photographs since 1996. The Leiden Print Room and Study Center for Photography , which administers the oldest public photograph collection in the Netherlands, owns almost 900 photographs from before 1860.

The information and the available visual material is presented in an `online' collection catalogue which can be found on this link here.

Read more…
I am completing work on a database of RPS members from 1853-1900 and I recent put out a call for missing membership lists. This produced three more lists previously unknown to me. I would like to make a final appeal for membership lists for the following years: 1855, 1856, 1858, 1860-1865, 1876, 1877, 1894 and 1898.

If you have these – perhaps bound in with the respective volume of the Photographic Journal – I would be pleased to discuss how I might get a copy so that I can incorporate the names/addresses, etc., into the database.

Please email me:

Already research for this project has brought out new names of members who do not appear in the published membership lists and has revised the election dates of others. The completed database will be searchable and will be made freely available in the summer. Depending on the response then it may be extended to 1920.

Regards and thanks.

Dr Michael Pritchard  
Read more…

12200920894?profile=originalAs mentioned in an earlier BPH blog, The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has just published a new book containing never-before seen photographs of Mecca taken by the Dutch scientist Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje in the late 1800s.

The Islamic scholar Hurgronje was the first westerner to capture images in this ‘forbidden city’. He did so by converting to Islam so that he could take part in the Hajj. He became world famous the moment his books of photographs were published. Now, for the first time, we learn about the obstacles that Snouck Hurgronje had to overcome in order to obtain his photographs. He took those in his first book himself, while the second is filled with photographs by his assistant, the Meccan doctor ‘Abd al-Ghaffar. His share in Snouck Hurgronje’s books and their remarkable collaboration have never been studied before. One of the high points is an exceptional circular, six-shot photograph taken with a homemade ‘detective camera’. It was made with the ‘revolver method’ of a rotating glass plate that enabled six photographs to be taken in succession without changing the plate.

You can try searching for the book through the Amazon link on the right, or direct from the Museum here.


Read more…

12200920497?profile=originalBill Brandt portrayed the lives of all levels of British society in both staged and documentary photographs from the 1930s and 1940s. Now four of his works, including Soho Bedroom (1936), depicting a couple locked in a passionate embrace which was published in his influential book A Night in London (1938) can be viewed in a new exhibition at the Met, details of which can be found here

Brandt also made night views of London during the Blitz, when the city imposed blackouts.


Photo: Soho Bedroom, Bill Brandt (1938)

Read more…

12200918901?profile=originalDid you know that the Mariannhill Monastery, near Pinetown (South Africa) was a fully fledged photographic studio (complete with painted backdrops for people to pose) from the 1880s to the 1930s? In the late 1890s this studio, then run by Brother Aegidius, produced an album of ethnographic photographs depicting the local Zulu people that found its way into the collections of ethnographic museums all over Europe.
It was this album that led Christoph Rippe to his interest in the monastery and its photographic record. A doctoral student in cultural anthropology at the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at Leiden University in the Netherlands, Rippe is currently researching the photographs archives of Mariannhill Monastery produced since the 1880s. 
The museum purchased an album of photographs — 156 in all — from Mariannhill in 1899. “In 1897 Brother Aegidius sent out letters to ethnographic museums in Europe, making them aware of the album,” says Rippe. “He produced a standard set accompanied with a pamphlet giving a detailed account of objects, the ritual practices depicted, along with the Zulu names for objects depicted in the photographs.  Most major museums in Europe have Mariannhill collections — in Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, even Hungary.” 

According to Rippe, these images were not just ethnographic photographs, but also used as propaganda and to raise funds for the mission as well as to foster an interest in vocations.

You can read the rest of the report here.

Read more…

World Wet Collodion Day - 1 May 2011

12200915095?profile=originalWet plate collodion is a photographic process invented by Frederick Scott Archer in 1851. Prior to this the two main methods of photography had been the daguerreotype and the calotype, both of which had drawbacks. The daguerreotype produced sharp images but were one of a kind, duplication wasn't possible. The calotype was capable of any number of copies but the images were slightly soft because of the paper fibres in the negative. Archers process solved these problems with his wetplate process allowing for the first time multiple copies of sharp images.

Sunday 1st May is World Wetplate Day - see: To celebrate this photographic artists John Brewer and Tony Richards invite you to their new studio dedicated to early photographic practices in Ancoates, Manchester between 11.00am and 4.00pm. Come and see the process take place, talk with the artists and have your portrait taken as it was done 130+ years ago. See: DarkboxStudios.pdf 

Contact: John Brewer M 07740 737 997
Tony Richards M 07742 026 447

The Darkbox Studio
32 Wellington House
Pollard Street East
Manchester M40 7FT
Read more…

Book: An Edwardian Summer

12200914665?profile=originalSydney lawyer and identity Arthur Wigram Allen, a tirelessly enthusiastic photographer, was fascinated by the social and technological changes occurring during his lifetime. His talent for amateur photography produced extraordinary pictures that offer a fresh insight into the Edwardian years in Sydney.

The Edwardian era was sandwiched between the great achievements of the Victorian age and the global catastrophe of World War I. The death of Queen Victoria in January 1901 heralded a new century of significant inventions and social changes, including powered flight, the rise of the motorcar and a new federated Australia.

An Edwardian Summer: Sydney & Beyond Through the Lens of Arthur Wigram Allen will present a selection of Allen’s beautiful images, depicting intimate moments with family and friends, motoring and harbour excursions, theatrical celebrities, bush picnics, the introduction of surf bathing on Sydney beaches, processions, pageants and mass celebrations, and new freedoms in fashion. Most have never before been published, and they form an unrivalled personal pictorial record of these rapidly changing times.

The accompanying exhibition, which just ended at the Museum of Sydney, also included artworks by Rupert Bunny, Ethel Carrick Fox, Arthur Streeton and Grace Cossington Smith, examples of male and female fashion including evening and day wear, motoring ensembles and children’s dress-up costumes, jewellery and accessories, furniture and decorative embellishments characteristic of the Edwardian era.

If you are interested, just click on the Amazon link on the right to preorder the book which will be out in June 2011.

Read more…

Job: Curator of Photography

12200919896?profile=originalBearer of better news this time round!

The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) seeks a curator of photography. This person will oversee and manage the museum's extensive collection, and establish priorities for collections research and development, exhibition programming and interpretation. Additionally, the candidate will be expected to participate in scholarly and public programming activities (lectures, docent training, presenting papers, authoring articles, et al). 
NOMA's photography collection, begun in the early 1970s, currently numbers over 8500 images and ranges in date from the invention of the medium to the present day. It is strong in the works of German and Czech avant-garde photography of the 1920s and early '30s; the Pictorialists in America and Europe; American Documentary photography, including the work of the Farm Security Administration and the New York Photo League; Louisiana photography as well as examples by major contemporary artists. Among the many artists represented in depth are Bernice Abbott, Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, E.J. Bellocq, Ilse Bing, Margaret Burke-White, Wynn Bullock, Imogen Cunningham, Harold Edgerton, Frederick Evans, Walker Evans, Andreas Feininger, Arnold Genthe, Laura Gilpin, John Gutmann, Lewis Hine, Andre Kertesz, Clarence John Laughlin, Aaron Siskind, August Sander, Patti Smith, Edward Steichen, Joseph Sudek, Edmund Teske, Jerry Uelsmann, James Van Der Zee, Edward and Brett Weston, and Joel Peter Witkin. 
Many great photographers have worked in New Orleans, using the city as both subject and muse. New Orleans has been, and continues to be, the locus of a vibrant community of photographers and collectors. It is expected that the curator of photography will embrace opportunities to engage fully with this community. 
The successful candidate will have at least 3-5 years of curatorial experience dealing with research, exhibitions, acquisitions and collaborative programming and have a distinguished record of scholarly achievement. A PhD in art history with a specialization in the history of photography is preferred, and it is expected that the candidate will have expertise in areas that parallel the collection's strengths. Salary and benefits are competitive. 
Applicants should send a letter of interest, a current CV, references and a list of publications to: or send to New Orleans Museum of Art, 1 Collins Diboll Circle, New Orleans, La 70124 EEO/M/F/DV 
Applications will be accepted until 1st June 2011, or until the position is filled.

Full details can be found here. Good luck!

Read more…

Auction: 19th century Photographs

12200911686?profile=originalIf your budget can't quite stretch to the Report of the Juries (1851), fear not as there is a selection of interesting 19th century photographs up for grabs at a forthcoming auction to be held at Bloomsbury Auctioneers on Wednesday 18th May 2011.

This includes one of the earliest instantaneous news photographs -  an 1855 stereoscopic daguerreotype by P H Delamotte for Negretti & Zambra of the reception of Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Gernsheim records that only one daguerreotype of that occasion is known, and that, although four photographers covered the reopening of the Crystal Palace on 10 June 1854, only one deguerrotype of that occasion has survived. Estimated at a mere £9,000 - £12,000.

You can find details of the lots for sale here.


Photo:  P H Delamotte for Negretti & Zambra The Reception of Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 20th April 1855.

Read more…

12200919052?profile=originalAlthough BPH is not particularly commercially orientated every so often something comes along which deserves making a fuss of. British auction house Bonhams has a copy of Reports by the Juries (1851) up for auction on 7 June 2011. This particular copy was presented by W H F Talbot to his daughter Matilda in 1860 and come by descent to the present owner so it is reasonable to assume that it has come from Lacock Abbey. The lot is estimated at a very reasonable £20,000-30,000 for what is a rather wonderful item with exceptional provenance.

The lot can be found here and the lot description and footnote is reproduced below:


Lot No: 67•

Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, 1851. Reports by the Juries on The Subjects in the Thirty Classes into which the Exhibition was Divided, 4. vol., ONE OF FIFTEEN COPIES GIVEN BY THE COMMISSIONERS TO WILLIAM HENRY FOX TALBOT, this copy inscribed by Talbot at the foot of the specially printed tipped-in presentation leaf to "his dear daughter Matilda 1st January 1860", 154 MOUNTED CALOTYPES, captioned on the mounts, images 175 x 224mm., 3 chromolithographed plates by Day & Son, some light occasional foxing (images unaffected), original red morocco by Riviére, title of each volume and the crowned monogram of Victoria and Albert stamped in gilt on covers and spines, red morocco turn-ins with gilt Greek key pattern, blue watered silk endpapers with gilt stamped Royal insignia between Victoria and Albert monograms, g.e, folio (347 x 255mm.), Spicer Brothers, Wholesale Stationers, W. Clowes & Sons, Printers, 1852

Estimate: £20,000 - 30,000, € 23,000 - 34,000
Request Condition Report


As inventor of the calotype, and the holder of the patent, Talbot agreed to accept fifteen copies of the Reports (each valued at £30), in lieu of what he might have received by exercising his rights under the patent for the calotypes used.

Nikolaas Henneman (Talbot's one time photographic assistant) was responsible for printing all 20,150 photographs needed for the Reports, of which 130 copies were printed, from albumenised glass plate negatives and calotype paper negatives by Claude Marie Ferrier and Hugh Owen respectively. Henneman was commissioned by the Royal Commissioners and Executive Committee of the Great Exhibition to undertake the printing of the positives on Talbot's silver chloride paper. However, as Talbot commented at the time, "[the Committee] are so extraordinarily stingy, notwithstanding they have a surplus of £200,000, and make such hard conditions with [Henneman], that it is doubtful whether he will earn anything by his labour" (Gernsheim, p.207). One hundred and thirty copies of the Reports were printed, each set comprising four volumes containing 154 calotype prints, for presentation to Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Cabinet Ministers, foreign governments and institutions such as the British Museum. The Great Exhibition is today often thought to be synonymous with various decorative arts, but many of the calotypes serve to remind that British engineering and technology were very much in the minds of the Commissioners, including Crampton's locomotive (illustrated) and Naysmyth's steam hammer.

Provenance: William Henry Fox Talbot, presented to his daughter Matilda in 1860; and thence by direct decent to the current owner.

Read more…

Video: Behind the scenes .....

12200916657?profile=originalNot a new book as such, as it was published in the tail end of 2009, but Todd Gustavson's "Camera: A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digitaltheless, a useful resource and one for a photo historian's library.

This cornerstone volume, created in collaboration with the world-famous George Eastman House, celebrates the camera and the art of the photograph. It spans almost two hundred years of progress, from the first faint image ever caught to the instantaneous pictures snapped by today’s state-of-the-art digital equipment.

Below is a video showing behind the scenes on the making of this book, including some interesting early cameras.


Read more…

London museum hit by deep cuts

12200917697?profile=originalI hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Museum of London has recently announced that it has made 11 roles redundant, including three senior curator posts of pre-history, Roman history and photography. Two collections care experts and six front-of-house “hosts” have also taken voluntary redundancy.  

Another senior curator post (of social and working history), which is currently vacant, has now been cut. Last year, the medieval senior curator and senior curator of oral history posts were deleted. According to a source close to the museum, "........  this is only just the beginning." 

The full report can be found here, including another one on county archives and record offices here. I hope to post some better news the next time round!

Read more…

The 19th century photo album of Mrs Finn

12200917067?profile=originalThe daughter of an Irish missionary and wife of James Finn (the British consul at the twilight of Ottoman rule in the second half of the 19th century), Elizabeth Finn, was considered a pioneer in bringing photography to the region when she arrived in Jerusalem in 1846.

In 1850, a British missionary known only as Bridges arrived at the Finn home to recover from the loss of his wife and daughter, who had been killed by a crocodile while on a mission to Africa. Bridges was a friend of William Talbot, one of the pioneers of photography; when Finn heard from the visiting missionary about the new technology, she asked for a camera. An enormous camera soon arrived and Finn set off to capture the first celebrities of Jerusalem - men of the cloth, consuls, dignitaries visiting the city, local nobility, Jews and Arabs.

A red hard-backed photo album with 51 photographs belonging to Finn has been uncovered by Dr. Nirit Shalev-Khalifa, a curator at Jerusalem's Yad Ben-Zvi Institute, during the course of her research. Most were taken by Finn herself at a studio she set up in her home. One photo captures Prince Albert Edward who visited in April 1862.

Local 19th & 20th century photo albums will now be used to broaden research efforts into the history of the area. Israel has already invested NIS 1.2 million in this project, which aims to preserve national heritage by digitising and archiving hundreds of thousands of photographs.

This latest photo album is set to join the nation's treasure trove. The full news report can be found here.



Photo: Prince Albert Edward, Finn, 1862. Copyright:  Yad Ben-Zvi Institute.


Read more…

12200913496?profile=originalAn online petition has been launched save Newcastle's Side Gallery which opened in 1977. The Gallery has a commitment to documentary in the tradition of the concerned photographer. It commissions work in the North of England and shows historical and contemporary work from around the world. Talks are organised around most of the exhibitions. The Arts Council has axed Side Gallery as a revenue client in its ‘National Portfolio’. The reasons for the decision are:

  • The gallery is part of a collective and therefore doesn’t have a board;
  • The gallery needs Arts Council funding and therefore isn’t sustainable;
  • There are too many galleries dedicated to humanist documentary photography in Side’s geographical location.

This flies in the face of the fact that the collective has continued to deliver what is unquestionably the strongest cultural legacy created in the North East over the past forty years.  Unlike many Arts organisations, its egalitarian collective governance has meant Side Gallery has never approached the Arts Council or Northern Arts for a bail-out. It is the only gallery in the country dedicated to documentary photography.

For see the petition click here:

To visit the Gallery's website click here:


Read more…

Another first for the Scots .....

12200914678?profile=originalDid you know that Smithsonian's first photographer and curator of photography was a Scotsman?

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1843, Thomas William Smillie immigrated to the United States with his family when he five years old. After studying chemistry and medicine at Georgetown University, he took a job as a photographer at the Smithsonian Institution, where he stayed for nearly fifty years until his death in 1917. Smillie's duties and accomplishments at the Smithsonian were vast: he documented important events and research trips, photographed the museum's installations and specimens, created reproductions for use as printing illustrations, performed chemical experiments for Smithsonian scientific researchers, and later acted as the head and curator of the photography lab. Smillie's documentation of each Smithsonian exhibition and installation resulted in an informal record of all of the institution's art and artifacts. In 1913 Smillie mounted an exhibition on the history of photography to showcase the remarkable advancements that had been made in the field but which he feared had already been forgotten.

12200915281?profile=originalFor the Smithsonian's first exhibition of photography in 1913, Smillie arranged the photographs in a rough chronological order in displays that highlighted their value as documents of history, as portrayers of American life, as tools of science and technology, and as artistic images.


Photo: Top: Cyanotype, 7.9" x 5.2", U.S.A, 1890 (Thomas William Smillie; copyright  Smithsonian).

Bottom: Installation view of Smithsonian Photography Exhibition Art Section, c.1913, Thomas Smillie, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Read more…

Anna Atkins? Constance Talbot?

Well, according to Roddy Simpson, a former secretary of the Scottish Society for the History of Photography and currently a photographic researcher at Glasgow University, he thinks the accolade should be bestowed upon Jessie Mann, who lived in Edinburgh in the 1840s.

Miss Mann, from Perthshire, was an assistant to Edinburgh-based photographic pioneers David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, may have been the first female to use photographic machinery to capture images of people and places.

You can read the rest of the report here.

Read more…

Rescheduled from Autumn 2010, this symposium explores the impact and legacy of the photography magazine TEN.8. Published throughout the 1980s before it folded in 1992, TEN.8 was conceived by then Birminghambased Derek Bishton, Brian Homer and John Reardon to bring together the city’s photographers. Its impact however, reached far beyond this initial aspiration.

Speakers include Derek Bishton, journalist and founder member of TEN.8; David Brittain, Manchester Metropolitan University; Dr. Eugenie Shinkle, University of Westminster; and Mark Sealy, Director of Autograph ABP (Association of Black Photographers).

The Symposium takes place on Wednesday 4 May 2011 from 1pm-5pm at mac, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH. Tel: 0121 446 3232. See: 

Read more…

Blog Topics by Tags

Monthly Archives