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Photograph - At Compton, Surrey
  • At Compton, Surrey
    Turner, Benjamin Brecknell, born 1815 - died 1894
  • Enlarge image

At Compton, Surrey

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Compton (photographed)

  • Date:

    1852-1854 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Turner, Benjamin Brecknell, born 1815 - died 1894 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Albumen print from calotype negative

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 354, box E

Benjamin Turner was one of the first, and remains one of the greatest, British amateur photographers. He began practising photography in 1849 according to the technique patented in 1841 by the British inventor W. H. Fox Talbot (1800-1877). Turner's photographs were 'contact' printed from paper negatives (known as calotypes) of the same size as the print. He printed them on albumen paper, which is paper that has been floated on an emulsion of egg white containing light-sensitive silver salts. Between 1852 and 1854 Turner compiled 60 of his own photographs, including this one, in what is believed to be a unique album, 'Photographic Views from Nature'. It might have been a sample book, a convenient method for presenting photographs for personal pleasure, and for showing to colleagues or potential exhibitors. It remained in the Turner family until it was bought by the Museum.

This photograph gives us a great deal of information about the agricultural cycle: a large corn rick, indicative of that summer's good harvest, can be seen on the left. It has been raised on staddle stones, supports that protect it from damp, rats and mice. It has been thatched to further protect it until it was to be threshed. The stack on the right is hay, a less valuable crop, intended as winter feed for the livestock. In the foreground is a felled tree trunk and branches, intended for firewood. All these traditional farming practices would change radically or disappear altogether over the next few decades.

Physical description


Place of Origin

Compton (photographed)


1852-1854 (made)


Turner, Benjamin Brecknell, born 1815 - died 1894 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Albumen print from calotype negative


Height: 27 cm, Width: 38.6 cm, Height: 58 cm framed, Width: 68 cm framed, Depth: 205 cm framed

Descriptive line

19thC; Turner B B, At Compton, Surrey

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

Roger Taylor, Impressed by Light: British photographs from paper negatives, 1840-1860 New York : Metropolitan Museum of Art ; Washington : National Gallery of Art ; New Haven ; London : Yale University Press, c2007. 9781588392251 (Metropolitan Museum of Art (hc)) 1588392252 (Metropolitan Museum of Art (hc)) 9780300124057 (Yale University Press (hc)) 0300124058 (Yale University Press (hc)).



Subjects depicted

Farmyard; Barn; Staddle stones; Haystack; Corn rick




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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