Masterpieces of Victorian Photography

By Helmut Gernsheim | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

BY C. H. GIBBS-SMITH


KEEPER IN THE VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM

IT is, perhaps, one of the more legitimate regrets of history that the science of photography was not born sooner. Most inventions come as the culmination or several lines of research or discovery, and such inventions generally arrive on the scene as soon as humanly possible. But the successful photograph could easily have been made nearly a century before it did in fact see the light. For there were adequate lenses in existence by the middle of the eighteenth century, and the action of light on salts of silver was demonstrated by Johann Heinrich Schulze in 1727. To complete the trio of ingredients, the camera obscura, known since Leonardo da Vinci, was a well recognized aid for the amateur -- and occasionally the professional -- artist of the eiqhteenth century.

Photography, as the reader will see from this book, was officially launched in 1839. Architectural and topographical shots were possible from that date; portrait photography got well under way in the early 'forties; and the full flowering of all photography, except of objects in motion, came after the invention of the wet plate in 1851. So we have lost, by default, the images of the Age of Reason, the Revolutions of Industry and of France, the Romantic Revival and the age of Napoleon. We have lost Dr Johnson and Mrs Siddons, Byron and Bonaparte.

But the ultimate triumph of photography brought about perhaps the most penetrating, although undramatic, revolution of the modern world. For it provided the human mind with a new pictorial lining. It widened the boundaries of experience; it recorded, informed and immortalized; and it added a most versatile tool to the workshops of science and industry. Since photography is the craft of recording, the era in which it was born is preserved for us in all its delightful, horryfying and absorbing detail. Victorian photography records in its brown and bromide images the buildings and landscapes, the great faces and the humble faces, the sentimental charades, the diversions and the daily lives of that period in which philanthropy, cruelty, inventiveness, commercial acumen, literary triumph and far-sighted idealism were found in bewildering profusion.

This book reveals, or at least suggests, much of that rich profusion; and it often adds another quality -- beauty. The word is here used quite unambitiously; it is used to indicate a quality in the pictures which sometimes enhances their subject-matter, and sometimes transcends it. Much nonsense and a little wisdom has been written during the past century about the art of photography. I am not going to risk adding to either category. But no one with moderate sensibilities would claim that pictorial photography as a whole can rival the achievements of painting with its infinite reach of creativeness. By the same token, however, it is obvious that artistic creativeness can find a vehicle in photography and a considerable number of the pictures which follow provide ample evidence of it.

One of the limiting factors in appreciating photographs has always been, and still is, the comparatively small size of those presented to us on the walls of galleries, or in books and periodicals. In this connexion it is interesting to note how few of the world's great paintings are small. Many psychological factors enter into this strange but universal deference paid to large objects. Photography, as an artistic

-5-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Masterpieces of Victorian Photography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Foreword 5
  • Masterpieces of Victorian Photography 7
  • Notes 18
  • REPRODUCTIONS 19
  • NOTES ON VICTORIAN PHOTOGRAPHY AND PHOTOGRAPHERS 93
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 110

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.