Royalty star photographers Roger Fenton and Julia Margaret Cameron enter Blackwell House

By Ben Miller | 02 February 2011
Roger Fenton, The Princess Royal and Princess Alice, Balmoral (1856). Albumen print
Exhibition: Roger Fenton and Julia Margaret Cameron: Early British Photographs from the Royal Collection, Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House, Blackwell, until April 27 2011

Despite having careers spanning little more than a decade during the mid-19th century, Roger Fenton and Julia Margaret Cameron were pioneers who made vital impacts upon the field they loved.

After appearing in a show at the Society of the Arts in 1852, Fenton was introduced to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at the inaugural exhibition of the Photographic Society, heading to the Royal residences several times in the 1850s to produce pictures of the family, who also bought several of his commercial shots of Windsor Castle and the surrounding parkland.

A black and white blurred photo of a middle aged man with thick white hair and a beard from the 19th century
Julia Margaret Cameron, Thomas Carlyle (1867). Albumen print© Royal Collection (2010) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth
The interest the Queen held in photography is the focus of this exhibition – she was enamoured by Cameron’s powerful, wistful portraits of sitters she felt had attained heroic status through their achievements, capturing leading artists and writers of the time.

A black and white photo of royal towers in the 19th century, surrounded by gravel paths and clumps of grass. Guardsmen and men in suits are visible in the foreground
Roger Fenton, Interior view, the Round Tower, Windsor Castle (1860). Albumen print© Royal Collection (2010) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth
Cameron was a late starter, only embarking on her photographic career when her daughter gave her a camera at the age of 48, but her laboriously considered, moodily atmospheric shots are in outstanding condition thanks to the care she took in archiving them.

A black and white portrait photo of a middle-aged man with a huge beard and moustache against a dark background
GF Watts (1865). Albumen print© Royal Collection (2010) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth
Twenty-two works by Fenton and Cameron feature in this show, taken from the Royal Photograph Collection. They debut at Blackwell before going on tour.
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