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Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Helmsley (made)

  • Date:

    1856 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Smith, William Lyndon (Mr), born 1836 - died 1865 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Albumen print

  • Credit Line:

    Given by David Lyndon Smith

  • Museum number:

    E.286-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, room 512M, case PX4, shelf 11, box FOLDER

William Lyndon Smith (born 21 May 1836 Leeds, died 23 January 1865, Gledhow, Leeds) was a promising and well-know artist-photographer of the 1850s. He showed his works in numerous photographic society exhibitions: Birmingham and London in 1857; Edinburgh and London in 1858; Glasgow in 1859; London in 1862 and 1863. He also exhibited at the Architectural Photographic Association, London in 1858, and at the International Exhibition, London in 1862. At the Edinburgh exhibition, he won the Silver Medal for the ‘Best Photograph in the Exhibition by an Artist’, The Rising Mist (possibly E.296-2008). For his entries to the International Exhibition, London in 1862 he gained an honourable mention certificate, which forms part of this gift. He was one of the early users of the wet collodion on glass negative, invented in 1851, from which he made fine albumen prints. His favoured subject was architecture, especially abbey and church ruins.

As a gentleman amateur, Lyndon Smith made very few prints, primarily only for exhibition. As a result, these prints (E.276-2008 to E.302-2008) are very rare, probably unique, and have remained in good condition in the possession of the Lyndon Smith family until now. They are excellent examples of the artistic aspirations of photographers of the 1850s before the commercialisation of the 1860s, and compare well with the better known names of Roger Fenton, Benjamin Brecknell Turner and Francis Bedford. This collection forms the largest known body of Lyndon Smith’s work in any public or private collection, and other prints are unlikely to be discovered. As such, it is an important collection adding to a better understanding of a pivotal period in British photographic history. Lyndon Smith may have become better known if he had continued to work into the 1860s, but his talent was cut short by an early death due to an ice skating accident in which he attempted to save a man and woman who had fallen through ice on a pond local to his home. The collection of photographs contains a few prints by other named photographers of the 1850s, among them MacPherson, who was the pre-eminent photographer in Rome at the time. The group also incorporates four etchings in the Picturesque style. These items are likely to have been in Lyndon Smith’s possession and hence illuminate the context of his own works.

Physical description

The moat at Helmsley Castle. Faded, dark retouching indicated the original depth of the print. The mount has been trimmed and an earlier signature partly cut off.

Place of Origin

Helmsley (made)

Date

1856 (made)

Artist/maker

Smith, William Lyndon (Mr), born 1836 - died 1865 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Albumen print

Marks and inscriptions

'Lyndon Smith photo 1856'
Signed in red ink, lower ight, below remains of previous signature across corner in black ink.

'Smith / 1856'
remainder of original signature in black ink

'The Moat. Helmsley Castle.'
Written in red ink below image, bottom left

Dimensions

Height: 193 mm image, Width: 239 mm image, Height: 300 mm board, Width: 404 mm board

Descriptive line

Photograph by William Lyndon Smith, Helmsley Castle moat, 1856.

Materials

Photographic paper

Techniques

Albumen process

Categories

Photographs; Architecture

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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