Masterpieces of Victorian Photography

By Helmut Gernsheim | Go to book overview

MASTERPIECES OF VICTORIAN PHOTOGRAPHY

Two prominent art historians have recently turned their attention to the influence which photography and its forerunner, the camera obscura, had upon painting. Sir Kenneth Clark1 attempted to trace the panoramic landscape backgrounds of such Renaissance artists as Pollaiuolo and Piero della Francesca, and the extreme realism of mid-seventeenth-century Dutch painting, to a knowledge of the effect of the earlier optical device; whilst R. H. Wilenski2 took pains to define the camera's as opposed to the painter's vision, and then proceeded to lay the blame for all the shortcomings of nineteenth-century painting directly or indirectly on the influence of photography.

The inter-relation of photography and painting is a fascinating subject indeed, yet one requiring first and foremost a great deal more research on the part of historians before we can arrive at anything like a proper estimation. So far, the information offered has been largely surmise, for too little is as yet known about nineteenth-century photography, which has not yet been deemed worthy of a public collection or permanent exhibition.

Future historians of our century would commit a grave mistake should they judge modern art by the standards of the Royal Academy Exhibitions, or modern photography by the 'pictorialism' of the annual shows of the Royal Photographic Society or similar exhibitions. But whilst this contention will be readily acceded to, it must be emphasized that the attempt to evaluate the whole of nineteenth-century photography by the detailed metallic daguerreotype at the beginning or the smudgings and fuzzy photographs of the over-publicized 'artist'- photographers at the end of the period amounts to an equally serious error of judgement.

The camera obscura was by no means the only visual mechanical device in past centuries to assist the artist in drawing. The glass-plate drawing instrument described by Dürer in 1525, William Storer's delineator ( 1778), Wollaston's camera lucida ( 1807) and Cornelius Varley's Graphic Telescope ( 1811) are only a few of the many optical devices by the aid of which, at various periods, the artist's hand mechanically copied the vision of his eye.

I have indicated only some of the manifold complexities which confront the historian in his attempts to arrive at a fuller understanding of this rather involved subject. The information I have collected here does not claim to do more than indicate the direction for further research and form the basis for a much wider and more exhaustive study.

The thirst for knowledge which characterized the Renaissance was fertile ground for the invention and popularization of mechanical instruments by means of which scenery and figures could be delineated in accurate perspective. Yet the camera obscura dates from a much earlier epoch. The impression that Leon Battista Alberti invented this instrument is based upon a misunderstanding of a statement by Vasari. Alberti's invention 'for representing landscapes and for diminishing and enlarging figures' was of an entirely different nature: it was an

-7-

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.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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?

Help
Full screen
/ 110

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access 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

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.