early photography

A flurry of Frith photographs

Image: The Holy Bible, illustrated with photographs by Francis Frith, 1861. Photograph by Sheona Beaumont. This month I’ll be speaking at the University of Oxford’s seminar series ‘The Bible in Art, Music, and Literature’, with a talk entitled ‘Pick & Mix: the non-linear Bible as modern artists visualise it’. I’ll be exploring a few artists …

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Leaves and Lincoln

By way of an introduction to the conference Rethinking Early Photography held at Lincoln University earlier this month, Prof Larry Schaaf presented a lecture called ‘The Damned Leaf: Musings on History, Hysteria and Historiography’. In the whirlwind speculation that swirled around this particular photograph, which had come up for auction in 2008 as part of …

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Let there be light!

Coming up in the middle of June, I will be presenting a paper at the Rethinking Early Photography conference in Lincoln. Below is my abstract for Let There Be Light: Theology and Spirituality in Early Photography: Largely absent from discourses on the development and context of early photography is an examination of the religious and …

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The gilding of photography

It comes to something when 7 hours of travelling effort was required to go a photography exhibition – and when that effort was supremely worth it just to see this photograph. Despite coaches not turning up and trains being cancelled, I made it to London to see Drawn by Light at the Science Museum’s Media …

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Photographing Jesus

For the forthcoming Images, Icons and Idols conference at the University of Manchester, I hope to present a paper with the title and abstract below. Forming part of my doctoral research, this paper will contribute to a chapter on the iconic characteristics of the photograph, particularly as they relate to the interpretation of biblical texts: …

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Early missionary photography

Missionary photography is outside the main interest of my research by virtue of its departure from biblical representation. However, it is undoubtedly a significant aspect of photography made and published in the name of religious interest, from its first occurrence in the mid-nineteenth century, up to the present day. There are certainly instances of biblical …

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Julia Margaret Cameron and her Marys

The Virgin Mary is a compelling and complex character for any believer, particularly a woman of the mid-nineteenth century. On the one hand, she was the ideal of femininity – gentle, nurturing, compassionate. If ever there was a woman who was great through love, it is the Madonna. On the other hand, as both mother …

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On Baudelaire Bible-bashing photography

In The Modern Public and Photography, part of a review of the Paris Salon’s 1859 exhibition, Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) wrote his famous diatribe against photography’s growing presence in the art world. Having first published on the occasion of the 1845 Salon, Baudelaire was now, as he wrote his last review, witnessing the first time that …

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Emerson and the beauty of ‘Marsh Leaves’

The beauty of the place was infinite and heartbreaking. Emerson, in love with the landscape, overlooked nothing, from winter’s mists to summer’s fullness. Yet such opulence was beyond the scope of photography and, eventually realizing this, Emerson had to content himself with exquisite miniature pictures of frozen earth, mists and far horizons – winter landscape, …

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