donderdag 1 april 2010

the Visit to Amsterdam in 1857 of Benjamin Brecknell Turner Amsterdam 1845 – 1875, The First Photographs Photography

The City Archives present a wide-ranging overview of Amsterdam’s rich photographic heritage from the third quarter of the nineteenth century. The exhibition brings together the very best photographs preserved from this period both from its own and other collections in the Netherlands and abroad. In the mid-1850s, photographers such as Pieter Oosterhuis started to market their work. Amateur photographers, such as Eduard Isaac Asser, Jan Adriaan van Eijk and Jacob Olie also began to make their mark. As well as presenting a richly varied picture of Amsterdam seen through the eyes of the photographers, the exhibition also showcases examples of a wide range of photographic techniques. Pride of place is reserved for the sixteen large format paper negatives of Amsterdam landscapes taken by British candle manufacturer and landscape photographer Benjamin Brecknell Turner during his visit to Amsterdam in 1857. Lees verder ...

Benjamin Brecknell Turner (1815-94) was one of the first, and remains one of the greatest, British photographers. His images were highly praised during his lifetime for their rustic beauty and grandeur.

Turner was born in London in 1815. At 16 he entered work there in the family candle and saddle soap business. In 1849 he took out a licence to practice paper negative  photography from its inventor, William Henry Fox Talbot, when the new art was barely 10 years old. Turner quickly mastered the art and exhibited at the world's first public photographic exhibition, held at London's Society of Arts in 1852, where he was singled out as one of the best contributors. In 1855 he won a medal at the Paris Exhibition Universelle and continued exhibiting his photographs until the 1880s.
Gentleman-amateur photographers like Turner contributed to the rapid technical and aesthetic development of the medium that occurred in the 1850s. They furthered discussion through meetings and journals, exchanged technical findings and photographic prints and exhibited in a network of clubs and societies devoted to the art of the photograph.
While basing his images on traditionally 'picturesque' styles and subjects of the generation of watercolour painters before him, Turner forged a new visual sensibility in which the capacity of photography to record the fine textures of the natural world became a new force of expression.

Benjamin Brecknell Turner
'Hawkhurst Church, Kent'
Albumen print from paper negative
Museum no. PH.54-1982
Hawkhurst's 14th century church - with its 15th century tower - is in this image perfectly reflected in the still village pond on a bright winter morning. The bundles of sticks stacked up to the right may be poles used for growing hops, or willow branches that would have been soaked in the pond to soften them for fashioning into fences, baskets or suchlike. Given that the mirrored image is a house of God, the scene can be read as a meditation on the nature of divine truth and its reflection in the physical world. Turner's alternative title for the picture - A Photographic Truth, which he used when it was exhibited at the Royal Society of Arts in 1852 - suggests it can also be understood as a comment on the self reflexive nature and philosophical possibilities of photography

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