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Photograph - Album No. 1, Photographs taken from Specimens in Royal Architectural Museum
  • Album No. 1, Photographs taken from Specimens in Royal Architectural Museum
    Bedford Lemere & Co.
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Album No. 1, Photographs taken from Specimens in Royal Architectural Museum

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Royal Architectural Museum (photographed)

  • Date:

    1872 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bedford Lemere & Co. (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Albumen print from glass negative.

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased from Bedford Lemere, 18 January 1873

  • Museum number:

    73007

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case CC, shelf 4

The galleried display areas of the Royal Architectural Museum located in Tufton Street were covered with casts of sculptural details taken from Gothic buildings, including the cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris and Westminster Abbey. By the early 1870s, Bedford Lemere & Co., the leading English firm of architectural photographers, was granted permission to photograph the RAM collection, winning an award for the series of albumen prints at the 1873 International Exhibition at Vienna.

The photographs from this series are mostly of casts in the RAM; many of them are identified (Chartres, Rouen, Amiens, St. Albans, Wells, Hereford, Ely, Lincoln, etc). The casts include capitals, bosses, finials, brackets, rosettes, spandrels, etc. Many of the photographs capture signs wired onto the wall stating the source of the cast and name of the photographer. Bedford Lemere & Co. catalogue numbers scratched into the negatives are also occasionally visible. They were sold as sets (either mounted or unmounted), or singly, and marketed to architects, students and 'art-workmen'.

The V&A took a leading role in the reproduction of art works to serve as models for artists and designers. When the South Kensington Musem (as the V&A was first known) was established in 1852, casts and photography were regarded as an essential part of the collection. They were viewed as educational tools, extending the visual resources of the Museum to artists and students of art and design.

Physical description

A mounted sepia-coloured photograph of plaster casts of architectural details.

Place of Origin

Royal Architectural Museum (photographed)

Date

1872 (photographed)

Artist/maker

Bedford Lemere & Co. (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Albumen print from glass negative.

Dimensions

Height: 10 in paper, Width: 12 in paper

Object history note

The Royal Architectural Museum (RAM) was established in 1851 by a group of architectural professionals led by George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878). The Museum was formed for the purpose of improving the education of architectural art-workers. Its collections were made up primarily of plaster casts of European Gothic architectural ornament, together with original examples of architectural details, and models, plans and drawings. The Museum's first home was in Canon Row, Westminster, London where, from 1852 until 1854, it incorporated a School for Art-workmen.

Under the patronage of Prince Albert (1819-1861) the RAM expanded rapidly and in 1857 moved to the new South Kensington Museum (now Victoria and Albert Museum), where it retained its independent status and name. In 1869 it moved to 18-20 Bowling Street (renamed Tufton Street), Westminster, London.

A 1876 catalogue record holdings in excess of 6000 items. But by 1904, enthusiasm for the Gothic had waned, and the RAM was taken over by the Architectural Association. The AA's architecture school existed within the RAM buildings until 1915 when it was decided that conditions were too cramped. The collections were dispersed (some gifted, others purchased), primarily to the Victoria and Albert Museum. The objects now form part of the reconstituted Cast Courts.

In 1872 the V&A received an album of 60 photographs of the RAM cast collection by Bedford Lemere & Co. It included a title page describing the photographs as the 'first series of thirty' photographs of the Royal Architectural Museum collection. They were to be sold as sets (either loose or bound) or as single photographs. It was marketed to professionals, students and 'Art-workers'. The series viewed as an important educational resource and it is noted that 'Copies have already been purchased for several Art Libraries by Sir G. Gilbert Scott, R.A.' A hand-written inscription on the bottom of this page records that the album was delivered to the V&A by Scott. The V&A went on to acquire two duplicates mounted sets of 30 prints from this series in 1873 and subsequently, an additional two duplicate sets of 90 unmounted prints from the same series was made 10 June 1875. This loose photograph was probably acquired as part of these subsequent purchases.

Descriptive line

Photograph by Bedford Lemere & Co., Westminster Chapter-House. 'The Root of Jesse' from the cast collection in the Royal Architectural Museum, albumen print, 1872

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Wannathepsakul, Natre. 'Recording the new: The architectural photography of Bedford Lemere & Co., 1870-1930.' Blueprint no. 305 (August 2011) p. 73.
Specimens in the Royal Architectural Museum, Westminster, London [photographed by] Bedford Lemere & Co.
Cooper, Nicholas. The photography of Bedford Lemere & Co. Swindon: English Heritage, 2011.
Scott, G. Gilbert. Catalogue of collection, 1877: with a guide to the Museum. London: Royal Architectural Museum, 1877.
Specimens in the Royal Architectural Museum, Westminster, London [photographed by] Bedford Lemere & Co.

Techniques

Photography; Albumen process

Subjects depicted

Architecture; Casts; Museums

Categories

Photographs

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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