Promoting Early European Photography at the National Waterfront Museum in Wales

By Ruth Hazard | 27 April 2012
A picture of a man operating one of the first cameras
John Dillwyn Llewelyn outside Penllergaer House (circa 1853)© National Museum Wales
Exhibition: Promoting Early European Photogrpahy (PEEP), National Waterfont Museum, Swansea, until May 27 2012

Promoting Early European Photography draws together the work of pioneers from across the continent to showcase some of the first pictures that were ever taken, using more than 100 works in a comprehensive illustration of how early photographers used technology to capture social history, scientific achievement and industrial growth across Europe between the 1850s and the 1930s.

Working on the PEEP project has been particularly enlightening for one of the Museum’s gallery assistants, Hannah Lawson. 

While taking part in a workshop in Iceland she noticed her great grandfather’s name in one of the captions below the photographs.

“I had never seen a photo of him as a young man, and he had died before I was born, so I was unable to be sure if it was him, although I could see a family resemblance,” she says.

“I sent a copy of the image to my parents, without the caption, and they immediately identified it as him.”

The image was taken by the Danish photographer Heinrich Tønnies before he emigrated to the UK and changed his surname to sound more British.

The gallery also features work by some of the nation’s home grown artists, Robert Jones and Thomas Henry Winterbourn. Their images are a clear visual representation of the country’s industrial heritage.

“South Wales photographers of the mid-19th century led the way in new techniques for producing images but their activities were mirrored in other European countries,” says curator Paul Haley.

  • Open 10am- 5pm. Admission free

More pictures:

A family with their pet rabbit
The Dillwyn children with their pet rabbit (circa 1854)© National Museum Wales

a boat on a lake
© National Museum Wales
a family sitting on a hilltop eating a picnic
Dillwyn family picnic at Goppa, Gower (September 1855)© National Museum Wales

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