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
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.
Sir Kenneth Clark, LANDSCAPE INTO ART. London, 1949.
R. H. Wilenski, THE MODERN MOVEMENT IN ART. London, 1945.
Giorgio Vasari, LE VITE DEI PIU ECCELLENTI PITTORI,
SCULTORI E ARCHITETTI. Milan edition 1809, vol. V, p. 81.
Roger Bacon, PERSPECTIVA. Combach's edition, Frankfurt, 1614, p. 166.
Charles Christopher Black and
Mrs Charles W. Heaton, LEONARDO DA VINCI AND HIS WORKS. London, 1874, p. 134.
Libri, HISTOIRE DES SCIENCES MATHEMATIQUES EN ITALIE
DEPUIS LA RENAISSANCE . . . ETC. Paris, 1838-40, vol. IV,
Vitruvius, DE ARCHITECTURA LIBRI DECEM. Translated by Cesare Como Cesariano, 1521, folio xxiii.
Giovanni Battista Porta, MAGIAE NATURALIS. Naples, 1558,
Book IV, Chapter II.
Daniel Barbaro, LA PRATICA DELLA PERSPETTIVA. Venice, 1568, Part IX.
Joseph Meder, DIE HANDZEICHNUNG, IHRE TECHNIK UND
ENTWICKLUNG. Vienna, 1919.
Sir Henry Wotton, RELIQUIAE WOTTONIANAE. London, 1651, p. 412.
Athanasius Kircher, ARS MAGNA LUCIS ET UMBRAE. Rome, 1646, Plate XXVIII.
Robert Boyle, THE SYSTEMATIC OR COSMICAL QUALITIES
OF THINGS. London, 1669.
Johann Zahn, OCULUS ARTIFICIALIS TELEDIOPTRICUS. Wuerzburg, 1685-6.
Count Algarotti, AN ESSAY ON PAINTING; WRITTEN IN
COUNT ALGAROTTI. Glasgow, 1764, p. 63
The Photoqraphic News, 1863, p. 67.
The Sunday Times, 8th August 1926: letter from Captain Reginald White.
The Photographic News, 1868, p. 587.
The Photographic News, 1861, p. 204.
W. P. Frith, MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND REMINISCENCES, London, 1887, Vol. I, p. 343.
DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI: HIS FAMILY LETTERS, WITH A
WILLIAM MICHAEL ROSSETTI. London, 1895.
the British Journal of Photography, 1891, p. 293.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Masterpieces of Victorian Photography.
Contributors: Helmut Gernsheim - Author.
Place of publication: London.
Publication year: 1951.
Page number: 18.
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