Entertainment & Arts

Landmark shots from the history of photography go on display

Lieutenant Colonel Mervyn O'Gorman Image copyright Lieutenant Colonel Mervyn O’Gorman
Image caption Portrait of Christina by Lieutenant Colonel O'Gorman in 1913 will be on display at the Science Museum

Key images from the history of photography are to be displayed at the Science Museum, where one of the UK's first photography exhibitions was held.

Drawn by Light will showcase the archives of The Royal Photographic Society, which holds one of the world's most important photography collections.

Among them are images from the earliest days of the art form.

The RPS held several public exhibitions at the South Kensington Museum - now the Science Museum - in the 1850s.

Pioneers including Alice In Wonderland author Lewis Carroll will be displayed alongside modern artists including Don McCullin, Terry O'Neill and Martin Parr.

Image copyright National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL
Image caption The Valley of the Shadow of Death, 1855, Roger Fenton

It will also feature images by Roger Fenton, one of the world's first war photographers, who was sent to document the Crimean War by the British government.

His image The Valley of the Shadow of Death is considered a masterpiece of the genre, showing a cannonball-strewn road near Sevastopol.

Image copyright National Media Museum, Bradford, SSPL
Image caption Dr Hugh Welch Diamond was fascinated by the possible use of photography in the treatment of psychiatric disorders

Other exhibits include portraits of psychiatric patients at Surrey County Asylum taken in the 1850s by Dr Hugh Welch Diamond.

Dr Diamond is considered to be one of the most important figures in early British photography, making his first photograph just three months after William Henry Fox Talbot introduced his invention of photography in 1839.

Image copyright National Media Museum, Bradford, SSPL
Image caption Works from Dr Diamond taken at Surrey County Asylum in the 1850s will go on display

One of the founders of the Royal Photographic Society, Dr Diamond pioneered medical and psychiatric photography in the 1850s and was the first to apply Victorian portraiture techniques to medical patients with psychiatric disorders.

He believed that a patient's mental state was manifested in their facial features, and he claimed to use his photographs to help diagnose their disorders.

Image copyright National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL
Image caption Paul Martin took this iconic shot of he Old Empire Theatre in Leicester Square London in 1896

The exhibition, which opens on 2 December, will also showcase pivotal artefacts from the history of photography including Talbot's early camera, and Nicephore Niepce's heliographs, which are some of the earliest known photographic images anywhere in the world.

Only a dozen of his plates survive, three of which will be on display.

Image copyright National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL
Image caption The Two Ways of Life, 1857, Oscar Rejlander

The exhibition will also feature influential images like Oscar Gustaver Rejlander's Two Ways of Life.

The Swedish photographer's most famous shot depicts a sage guiding two young men towards manhood. It sparked a debate about the depiction of naked women, which became more realistic on film compared to painting.

Image copyright The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust
Image caption Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941, Ansel Adams

Founded in 1853, the Royal Photographic Society began making acquisitions following Prince Albert's suggestion that the society collect images to record the rapid technical progress of photography down the ages.

Ansel Adam's Moonrise (above, 1941) shows how the photographer captured an unexpected scene and used his technical and processing skills to produce a picture that became his most popular image.

Image copyright Edward Weston
Image caption Nude on Sand - Oceano, California, 1936, Edward Weston

Edward Weston's Nude on Sand (above), features Charis Wilson, who was there to assist the photographer's landscape session and ended up at its centre after removing her clothes and bathing in the sand.

Drawn by Light: the Royal Photographic Society Collection is on display at London's Science Museum from 2 December to 1 March.

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