Photographs of the Victorian Era: Exhibition at the Russian Academy of Arts

April 14 – May 14, 2015
Tsereteli Art Gallery
19 Prechistenka street, Moscow

The exhibition “Photographs of the Victorian  Era” has been arranged basing on the collection of ROSPHOTO and British collection “Pre-Raphaelitism in the Art of Photography” presented by the British Council as a gift to the Tomsk Regional Art Museum.

The core of the exposition spans the period of the 1850s-1870s and is dedicated to the significant period not only in the English photography but also in English art as a whole, that is known as the Victorian Era. Its importance is stipulated by both the increasing photographers’ interest in art and the photography’s desire to enter the pantheon of fine arts. This aspiration has resulted in the development of the art photography trend where authors basing on various combinations of the real and unreal try to find artistic methods reflecting their creative and cultural interests.

In is in this period that the interests of English artists and photographers coincide. In painting and photography artists have drawn their inspiration in images of the medieval painting, literature and poetry, religious and everyday topics.

The exhibition features photographs by celebrated authors included in the Pre-Raphaelites circle such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Julia Margaret Cameron, Henry Peach Robinson, Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), as well as other masters of the Victorian Era who made a big contribution to the history of photography. Of major interest are Roger Fenton - Head of the London Photographic Society and first official military photographer, Lady Clementina Hawarden – one of the first women-photographers to have received the first award for the best amateur collection in the photography history. On display is also a photo-portrait of the girl Alice Liddell  - a muse of Lewis Carroll who depicted her in his remarkable books “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There”.

The second section of the exhibition presents a gift album with views of cities, historical places and monuments of Scotland. Such albums of photographic views were very popular in the second half of the 19th century among the Great Britain’s higher and middle classes. The album’s main author is James Valentine – a Scottish photographer who specialized in the panoramic views for picture albums and photo post-cards including those published since the 1850-s by his  Valentine&Sons Co. Thirty eight photographs are executed in the technique of the “wet collodion” invented by Frederick Scott Archer in 1851 that was later developed  to transfer the wet collodion emulsion process from the glass plate onto the paper.  

The album also contains 12 prints of another noted master of panoramic views photography George Washington Wilson who was fond of architectural and nature landscapes of Scotland, England and Northern Ireland. His photo archives (40000 units) is housed in the university city of Aberdin (Scotland). These works have been made by photomechanical printing method (woodburytype photomechanical process) patented by Walter B. Wodbury in 1864.


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