Agnes Chamberlain at the Window, Bredicot Court thumbnail 1
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 EDUC, Shelf 12.2

Agnes Chamberlain at the Window, Bredicot Court

Photograph
ca. 1854 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The Photographer: Benjamin Brecknell Turner

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
Albumen print from a calotype negative
Brief Description
Photograph by Benjamin Brecknell Turner of Agnes Chamberlain leaning out of a window at Bredicot Court, ca. 1854
Physical Description
Photograph of a woman leaning out of a window
Dimensions
  • Height: 14.7cm
  • Length: 17.4cm
Content description
E.5-2009 and E.6-2009 is a rare surviving example of a matching calotype negative and positive pair. The negative was made by brushing a sheet of paper with light sensitive silver salts and placing it in the camera. The negative was then waxed to make it translucent, and placed in direct contact with a second sheet of sensitised paper to make the positive print by leaving it in sunlight. This negative and positive pair illustrates the processes visually and makes it easy to understand. It would therefore be an excellent addition to the collection for teaching purposes as well as for exhibitions. The image shows Turner’s wife, Agnes (née Chamberlain) the daughter of Henry Chamberlain, of the Worcester porcelain manufacturing dynasty. The charming setting in the lattice window is probably sited at Bredicot Court, in the village of Bredicot, near Worcester, Henry Chamberlain’s country retreat. The setting innovatively takes advantage of the outdoor lighting conditions since, in a darkened interior, it would have been impossible to make the more rapid exposure necessary to capture the figure without movement that would result in blur.
Gallery Label
Gallery 100, ‘History of photography’, 2011-2012, label text : Benjamin Brecknell Turner (1815-94) Agnes Turner at the Window, Bredicot Court About 1850 In 1849 Turner took out a licence to practise paper negative photography from its inventor, William Henry Fox Talbot. Prints were made by placing a negative in contact with a second sheet of sensitised paper and leaving them in the sun. Paper negative and salted paper print Museum nos. E.5, 6-2009 (07 03 2014)
Credit line
Purchased through the Cecil Beaton Royalties Fund
Summary
The Photographer: Benjamin Brecknell Turner



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.
Associated Object
E.5-2009 (Version)
Collection
Accession Number
E.6-2009

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record createdJanuary 7, 2009
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