Masterpieces of Victorian Photography

By Helmut Gernsheim | Go to book overview
Save to active project

keys on the piano will not bring forth any coherent music, nor will the mere opening of the camera shutter produce a picture. The camera itself has no vision, and it is high time that art critics took cognizance of this fact. If photography were mechanical, half a dozen photographers taking the same view or the same object would produce six identical pictures. But no, quite on the contrary, their individuality manifests itself in their choice of viewpoint and treatment of the subject.

Like the painter, the photographer has his individual style, which is the expression of his judgement, taste, and feeling. His judgement is evident in the selection of the hour of the day at which the object or view is shown in the best light. His taste displays itself in the selection of the most favourable viewpoint; his feeling is exhibited in the choice of the subject itself. All this will be immediately apparent to anyone who has seen a representative selection of a photographer's work.

However, more convincing than any argument are the photographs themselves. Perhaps after looking through this selection of Victorian photographs you may be more inclined to agree with my contention that they have a far better claim to being works of art than the artistic pretensions of a great many Victorian painters, famous in their day. A recital of their names evokes the ghosts from the cellars of our national galleries: Landseer, David Roberts, Rossetti, Millais, Holman Hunt, Ford Madox Brown, Val Prinsep, Burne-Jones, Dicksie, Leighton, Poynter, Alma Tadema. But whereas Landseer was of the opinion that 'Photography will always be a foe-to-graphic art', I believe that Landseer was a foe to art.


NOTES
1
Sir Kenneth Clark, LANDSCAPE INTO ART. London, 1949.
2
R. H. Wilenski, THE MODERN MOVEMENT IN ART. London, 1945.
3
Giorgio Vasari, LE VITE DEI PIU ECCELLENTI PITTORI, SCULTORI E ARCHITETTI. Milan edition 1809, vol. V, p. 81.
4
Roger Bacon, PERSPECTIVA. Combach's edition, Frankfurt, 1614, p. 166.
5
Charles Christopher Black and Mrs Charles W. Heaton, LEONARDO DA VINCI AND HIS WORKS. London, 1874, p. 134.
6
Libri, HISTOIRE DES SCIENCES MATHEMATIQUES EN ITALIE DEPUIS LA RENAISSANCE . . . ETC. Paris, 1838-40, vol. IV, p. 305.
7
Vitruvius, DE ARCHITECTURA LIBRI DECEM. Translated by Cesare Como Cesariano, 1521, folio xxiii.
8
Giovanni Battista Porta, MAGIAE NATURALIS. Naples, 1558, Book IV, Chapter II.
9
Daniel Barbaro, LA PRATICA DELLA PERSPETTIVA. Venice, 1568, Part IX.
10
Joseph Meder, DIE HANDZEICHNUNG, IHRE TECHNIK UND ENTWICKLUNG. Vienna, 1919.
11
Sir Henry Wotton, RELIQUIAE WOTTONIANAE. London, 1651, p. 412.
12
Athanasius Kircher, ARS MAGNA LUCIS ET UMBRAE. Rome, 1646, Plate XXVIII.
13
Robert Boyle, THE SYSTEMATIC OR COSMICAL QUALITIES OF THINGS. London, 1669.
14
Johann Zahn, OCULUS ARTIFICIALIS TELEDIOPTRICUS. Wuerzburg, 1685-6.
15
Count Algarotti, AN ESSAY ON PAINTING; WRITTEN IN ITALIAN BY COUNT ALGAROTTI. Glasgow, 1764, p. 63 and 64.
16
The Photoqraphic News, 1863, p. 67.
17
The Sunday Times, 8th August 1926: letter from Captain Reginald White.
18
The Photographic News, 1868, p. 587.
19
The Photographic News, 1861, p. 204.
20
W. P. Frith, MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND REMINISCENCES, London, 1887, Vol. I, p. 343.
21
DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI: HIS FAMILY LETTERS, WITH A MEMOIR BY WILLIAM MICHAEL ROSSETTI. London, 1895.
22
the British Journal of Photography, 1891, p. 293.

-18-

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.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
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.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Masterpieces of Victorian Photography
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
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?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
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.

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.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?