History of Photography

H of P Seminars
Critical Studies
E. Chambre Hardman


Critical Studies


3. The Continuing Dialogue - Naturalism or Pictorialism

The 1880's saw the second wave of technical innovation. Photogravure printing for illustrated magazines and newspapers, dry plates, enlargers, hand cameras even the Kodak push button. The resulting ubiquity of photographs compelled the art photographer to separate in every possible way his or her own work from that of the common commercial portraitist, Sunday amateur or family chronicler. Abigail Solomon-Godeau (1985) p313.

The problematic 19th century question was how is photography best used ? One solution was to mirror the painters practice of staging of a scene, and as adjunct the compositional device of montage was used by many English nineteenth century pictorialist photographers. For example Henry Peach Robinson (1830 - 1901), the most succesful English photographer of his time published Pictorial Effect in Photography (1869).

Trained as a painter, he became a Royal Academician (R.A) when only 20. Robinson made photographs in the sentimental and allegorical styles favoured by English Victorian painters eg. the death bed scene "Fading Away" (1858). This albumen print, made by combination printing a number of collodon negatives, caused unease among Robinson's contemporaries due to its morbid reality. Robinson published detailed descriptions of his combination printing methods eg. his use of special cloud negatives.

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Harker Margaret The Linked Ring (London, Heinemann & RPS, 1979).
Harker M. Henry Peach Robinson, Master of Photographic Art 1830-1901 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988).
Newhall N. P.H. Emerson; The Fight for Photography as a Fine Art ( New York; Aperture, 1978).
Plowden D. (ed) The Land (London; Gordon Fraser,1975).
Pugh S. (ed) Reading Landscape (Manchester University Press 1989). Shaarfe A. The Gospel of Landscape in (Plowden 1975) pp i-vii.
Taylor John Pictorial Photography in Britain 1900 - 1920 (London; Arts Council of G.B. 1978).
Taylor J. A Dream of England, Landscape Photography and the Tourist's Imagination (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1994.
Taylor J The Alphabetic Universe : photography and the picturesque landscape Reprinted in (Pugh 1989)pp.179-185.
Turner P. & Wood R. Peter H. Emerson, Photographer of Norfolk (London: Gordon Fraser, 1974).


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