The History Of The Photographic Portrait At The Fox Talbot Museum

By Graham Spicer | 20 November 2006
black and white 1960s photo of a young woman wearing a patterned jumper and with a short hair cut

Twiggy by Barry Lategan

From Oscar Wilde to Tony Blair, Mick Jagger to Queen Victoria, portraits of some of the most recognisable figures from the last 150 years are on display at a new photography exhibition in Wiltshire.

The 65 iconic images have been loaned to the Fox Talbot Museum in Lacock Village for The History Of The Photographic Portrait display, which runs until April 29 2007.

“This new exhibition will have tremendous popular appeal,” said Karen Gilbert of the Fox Talbot Museum.

“Not only does it include many of the most famous people and iconic images of the last 150 years but it links beautifully with the rest of the museum. The first image of the exhibition is by William Henry Fox Talbot, the founder of modern photography, and whose story is also told by the Fox Talbot Museum.”

black and white photo of a boy swimming underwater taken from underneath him

Joe by Candice Farmer

Many of the most famous names in photography are included in the exhibition, with works by Lord Snowdon, Cecil Beaton and Lord Lichfield rubbing shoulders with those by pioneering photographers from the 19th century.

Barry Lategan’s famous portrait of Twiggy, Angus McBean’s classic shot of Audrey Hepburn and Linda McCartney’s image of Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw also feature.

“The exhibition is a new departure for us at the Fox Talbot Museum and we hope that this chronological approach to portrait photography will not only entertain but demonstrate how the art has developed since Fox Talbot’s discoveries,” added Karen.

very old photo of an old man with a shock of white hair and wearing a black hat

Sir John Herschel by Julia Margaret Cameron

As part of the exhibition, a photographer’s studio has been created at the museum. Visitors who bring their own cameras will be able to take portraits using the background screen, tripod and props provided. The best digital images will be displayed and entered into a competition.

The Fox Talbot Museum is dedicated to the life and work of William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-77), who lived at nearby Lacock Abbey and invented the negative-positive photographic process in 1840, establishing the basis of modern photography.

The photos were in the current exhibition were loaned to the museum from the Julia Margaret Cameron Trust, which was set up to promote the legacy of the Victorian photographer, a contemporary of Fox Talbot.

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