Changing the Landscape: the Art of Roger Fenton

We are pleased to announce that another wonderful album of Victorian photography is now fully catalogued and available through Library Search and fully digitised and available to view in LUNA, our online image collection as part of the ‘Out of the Ether’ project, supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

View of Central Beach, Blackpool, c.1860s.

English architecture and landscapes is an album that contains twelve albumen prints by the esteemed photographer Roger Fenton.  Each print is around 20.3 x 28 cm and is mounted to the album leaf rectos with ink captions beneath. They date from around 1859 but were probably actually printed in the 1860s. A further twenty-five (later and smaller) prints have been added to the album, a mix of albumen and photomechanical prints by Francis Bedford, George Washington Wilson and others, which are mounted to the endpapers and album leaf versos.

Self-Portrait of Roger Fenton in Zouave uniform, seated, facing front and holding rifle. Albumen silver print. 1850s

Roger Fenton, 1819-1869, was a pioneer of British photography and one of the first war photographers. Born into an affluent family in Crimble Hall, Rochdale, originally Fenton studied law and painting before turning his attention to photography.   Fenton excelled in the medium and travelled widely over Britain to record landscapes and still-life images in what is now considered to be photography’s ‘golden age’ [1].

Fenton is perhaps most famous for his images of the Crimean War, and despite the tribulations of photographing the event (Fenton contracted cholera and became depressed at the carnage he witnessed at Sevastopol) he still managed to make over 350 usable large format negatives of the conflict. In 1862 Fenton sold up all his photographic equipment and negatives, resigned from the Royal Photographic Society, and returned to practising law. However brief his activity, his contribution to the history of photography as an art form was pivotal.

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The album English architecture and landscapes showcases Fenton’s skill as a master of landscape photography.  It also demonstrates how he and others like him were inspired by and celebrated the world around them through the art of photography, creating a wonderful record for us all to enjoy.

Additional blog posts will announce when further material is available, including some of Fenton’s Crimean War prints, but meanwhile, follow Library Tammy on IG for updates on what goes on in the Visual Collections office here are The John Rylands Library.


[1] Malcolm Daniel. Department of Photographs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2004

All images unless otherwise stated are copyright of the University of Manchester and can be used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike Licence. With thanks to the Heritage Imaging team.


3 comments on “Changing the Landscape: the Art of Roger Fenton

  1. John Bromley-Davenport

    Looking forward to the Lovell/Sputnik article later this week.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. What a gem, a fantastic album! Many thanks for sharing this. Cheers, Bob Blesse

  3. aanderton

    Thank you Bob! Please do check back for more updates about our project.

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