Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F , Case X, Shelf 354, Box K

Bredicot Church

Photograph
ca 1850 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Benjamin Brecknell Turner (1815-1894) was one of the first, and remains one of the greatest, British photographers. He began practising photography in 1849 according to the ‘calotype’ technique patented in 1841 by the British inventor of photography W. H. Fox Talbot (1800-1877), taking out a license directly from him. Turner exhibited at the world’s first public photographic exhibition, held at London’s Society of Arts in 1852, where he was singled out by a reviewer from the Times as one of the best contributors. In 1855 he won a medal at the Paris Exhibition Universelle and continued exhibiting his photographs in photographic society exhibitions across Britain until the 1880s.

Turner is best known for his bold and large-scale (30 x 40 cm) albumen prints from calotype negatives showing rural English scenes in the picturesque tradition: ruined abbeys, castles, farmhouses and the rural landscape. However, he also made accomplished portraits of family, friends, and fellow photographers, and for these he often used the newer wet collodion on glass process.

Turner earned his living from running a successful tallow chandler’s business in the Haymarket, London, making candles and saddle soap. Rather than the professional photographers, it was the Gentleman-amateurs like Turner who contributed the most significantly to the rapid technical and aesthetic development of the medium that occurred in the 1850s. They furthered discussion through meetings and journals, exchanged experimental and technical findings and photographic prints and exhibited in a network of clubs and societies devoted to the art of the photograph. Turner played an active role in such bodies in his role as a founder member, and later vice-president of the Photographic Society of London.

This selection of photographs encompasses Turner’s earliest experiments in photography, made barely ten years after the announcement of the invention of the medium.
read Benjamin Brecknell Turner – working methods
object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Calotype negative
Brief Description
Calotype negative by Benjamin Brecknell Turner of a small church, seen from a distance
Physical Description
Calotype negative of a small church, seen from a distance.
Dimensions
  • Height: 14.8cm
  • Length: 18.2cm
Edges are frayed and irregularly cut
Content description
Bredicot Church, Worcestershire

This must be one of Turner’s earliest photographic negatives, possibly dating from the year he took up photography in 1849. The fact that it is not waxed indicates that it was never printed as a positive. The vignette effect around the edges of the image indicates that the lens was not covering the whole of the negative, showing perhaps Turner’s lack of experience at this date with the technical equipment that he was later to master. The church depicted is St. James the Less at Bredicot, Worcestershire, in which Turner married Agnes Chamberlain in 1847. The building is 13th century in origin but was restored in 1843, probably at the instigation of the Chamberlain family.
Credit line
Purchased through the Cecil Beaton Royalties Fund
Summary
Benjamin Brecknell Turner (1815-1894) was one of the first, and remains one of the greatest, British photographers. He began practising photography in 1849 according to the ‘calotype’ technique patented in 1841 by the British inventor of photography W. H. Fox Talbot (1800-1877), taking out a license directly from him. Turner exhibited at the world’s first public photographic exhibition, held at London’s Society of Arts in 1852, where he was singled out by a reviewer from the Times as one of the best contributors. In 1855 he won a medal at the Paris Exhibition Universelle and continued exhibiting his photographs in photographic society exhibitions across Britain until the 1880s.



Turner is best known for his bold and large-scale (30 x 40 cm) albumen prints from calotype negatives showing rural English scenes in the picturesque tradition: ruined abbeys, castles, farmhouses and the rural landscape. However, he also made accomplished portraits of family, friends, and fellow photographers, and for these he often used the newer wet collodion on glass process.



Turner earned his living from running a successful tallow chandler’s business in the Haymarket, London, making candles and saddle soap. Rather than the professional photographers, it was the Gentleman-amateurs like Turner who contributed the most significantly to the rapid technical and aesthetic development of the medium that occurred in the 1850s. They furthered discussion through meetings and journals, exchanged experimental and technical findings and photographic prints and exhibited in a network of clubs and societies devoted to the art of the photograph. Turner played an active role in such bodies in his role as a founder member, and later vice-president of the Photographic Society of London.



This selection of photographs encompasses Turner’s earliest experiments in photography, made barely ten years after the announcement of the invention of the medium.
Bibliographic Reference
Barnes, Martin, 'Benjamin Brecknell Turner: Rural England through a Victorian Lens', London: V&A Publications, 2001, Figure 8, p. 18.
Collection
Accession Number
E.3-2009

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record createdJanuary 7, 2009
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