sat 05/12/2020

Points of View: Capturing the 19th century in photographs, British Library | reviews, news & interviews

Points of View: Capturing the 19th century in photographs, British Library

Points of View: Capturing the 19th century in photographs, British Library

Photographic treasures exposed to the light

Printing Kodak, 1890: female staff mass-producing albumen prints made using eggwhites from 100 chickens in the yardAll reproductions courtesy British Library

“Photography is a refuge for failed painters,” declared the French poet, Charles Baudelaire around 1862. Yet photography took over a century to become a genuine family member of the art world. The British Library was slow to capitalise on the visitor value and historical significance of the vast photo-archive that it accumulated over the birth-period of this new artform. But its spectacular debut exhibition has burst open the vaults containing over 300,000 images, and now presents a magnificent production leading visitors on a journey back through time as the new art form was gradually building momentum.

“Photography is a refuge for failed painters,” declared the French poet, Charles Baudelaire around 1862. Yet photography took over a century to become a genuine family member of the art world. The British Library was slow to capitalise on the visitor value and historical significance of the vast photo-archive that it accumulated over the birth-period of this new artform. But its spectacular debut exhibition has burst open the vaults containing over 300,000 images, and now presents a magnificent production leading visitors on a journey back through time as the new art form was gradually building momentum.

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