National Media Museum blog

We explore the science, technology and art of the still and moving image, and its impact on our lives.

Researching female photographers in our archives

Insight is our dedicated collections and research facility, and anyone is welcome to book a visit to study prints by some of the world’s greatest photographers or examine apparatus from the National Collections in our care. We get requests from students, academics, museum professionals and members of the public.

In July, one of our visitors was Thomas Galifot, a curator at the Musée d’Orsay. He is researching and preparing an exhibition, scheduled to open in Paris in Autumn 2014, focussing on women photographers from 1839 – 1945.

Rebecca, c.1891, Eveleen Myers, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Rebecca, c.1891, Eveleen Myers, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Thomas was keen to see work from this period with a view to borrowing items from the National Photography Collection for the show. He viewed work by famous names, such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Anna Atkins and Gertrude Käsebier, but also some lesser known photographers such as the Nevill sisters, an aristocratic trio who showed their work at the 1854 exhibition of the Photographic Society in London.

'St Margaret', c.1903, Emma Barton, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘St Margaret’, c.1903, Emma Barton, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Here’s a small selection from the hundreds of photographs Thomas viewed during his two days delving into the collection.

'Carlyle like a rough block of Michel Angelo's Sculpture', 1867, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Carlyle like a rough block of Michel Angelo’s Sculpture’, 1867, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Cyanotype from 'Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns', 1853, Anna Atkins © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Cyanotype from ‘Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns’, 1853, Anna Atkins © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Clementina Maude and Isabella Grace Maude, c.1862, Clementina Hawarden © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Clementina Maude and Isabella Grace Maude, c.1862, Lady Clementina Hawarden © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'A Frugal Meal', date unknown, Minna Keene, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘A Frugal Meal’, date unknown, Minna Keene, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'Oak Tree in Erdige Park, Sussex', c.1856, Lady Henrietta Augusta Mostyn (née Nevill), The Royal Photographic Society Collection, © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Oak Tree in Erdige Park, Sussex’, c.1856, Lady Henrietta Augusta Mostyn (née Nevill), The Royal Photographic Society Collection, © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'Allington Castle, Kent', c.1855, Lady Caroline Emily Nevill, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Allington Castle, Kent’, c.1855, Lady Caroline Emily Nevill, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

The Magic Crystal or The Crystal Gazer, c.1904, Gertrude Käsebier, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

The Magic Crystal or The Crystal Gazer, c.1904, Gertrude Käsebier, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

We don’t know yet which photographs will be shown in Paris, but I look forward to seeing the exhibition next year.

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About Rebecca Smith

I'm the collections assistant - I answer enquiries, dig about in the archives, and update information about our collections. In my spare time I like looking at stuff - paintings, old industrial buildings, photographs, hills and waterfalls.

2 comments on “Researching female photographers in our archives

  1. Terence Pepper
    August 17, 2013

    Rebecca..this is a wonderful post and a great way of highlighting your amazing collection..hope you can do follow up blog about other interesting visitors and future researched exhibitions and may also add an approx. date/decade for the Minna Keene image

    • Rebecca Smith
      August 28, 2013

      Hello Terence. I’m very glad you liked the post (I’m fairly new to the blogosphere). Sorry I haven’t responded sooner – just organised my profile today to accompany the Fenton post. In answer to your comment, we don’t have a secure date for the Minna Keene image. The other Keenes in our collection range from 1904-1910 (where we have a date) so I have noted c.1908 as an indication. She’s also indicated in the RPS records from 1910-13. Best wishes

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