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Photograph - John Addington Symonds (1840-1893)

John Addington Symonds (1840-1893)

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca. late 1850s (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Collodion positive

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case DAG, shelf 2

Physical description

Cased photograph; hand-tinted collodion positive; bust portrait of a young man looking slightly to his left.

Place of Origin

Britain (made)


ca. late 1850s (photographed)



Materials and Techniques

Collodion positive


Height: 9.4 cm case, Width: 8.2 cm case, Height: 8.3 cm frame, Width: 7 cm frame, Height: 7.4 cm image, Width: 5.5 cm image, Width: 16.5 cm case open

Descriptive line

Hand-tinted collodion positive portrait of John Addington Symonds (1840-1893), Victorian poet and early advocate and writer on the topic of homosexuality. Great Britain, ca. late 1850s.

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

The following excerpts are from 'The Life and Writings of John Addington Symonds (1840-1893)' by Rictor Norton:

'John Addington Symonds was in the forefront of the "bourgeois radical" men and women with socialist ideals who were destined to reform public opinion in the 1890s. His specific contribution to the regeneration of society was as a pioneer in the field of gay rights; he was the first modern historian of (male) homosexuality, and the first advocate of gay liberation in Britain.

In the 1960s the triumvirate of Walt Whitman, John Addington Symonds, and Edward Carpenter was a major inspiration to the intelligentsia of the Gay Liberation Movement in America and Britain, Whitman providing the fervour of comradeship, Carpenter providing the political idealism, and Symonds providing an awareness of gay history and the realization that gay culture was part of the mainstream of life.'
The following excerpt is from 'Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History', by Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon (Routledge 2001):

"Symonds' long struggle to come to terms with his sexuality took place at first mainly through poetry and art. Here his feelings with men could be explored with some degree of safety. Apart from his dogged literary endeavours, which never received the recognition acheived by acquaintances like Swinburne and Walter Pater, Symonds was able to make an important contributuion to the understanding of homosexuality, a term whose use in English he also pioneered. Written in 1873, his essay 'A Problem in Greek Ethics' addressed one of the central paradoxes of 19th century British culture, which revered Greek art, philosophy and literature whilst deploring its sexual mores."


Pen and ink; Paper


Collodion; Tinting

Subjects depicted

Portrait; Homosexuality


Photographs; Portraits; Gender and Sexuality; LGBTQ

Production Type



Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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