Focusing on one broadly representative figure, Francis Bedford, this study emphasizes how photographs operated to form and transmit cultural ideas and values. The first writing on Bedford since the 1970s, the book examines the work of a man who was one of Victorian England's premier landscape photographers, and also a successful photographic entrepreneur. His fusion of art and commerce illuminates classifications of each field, exemplifies the tensions between them, and demonstrates a reconciliation of two often conflicting sets of issues. This study fills an informational gap, and analyzes the definitions, expectations, and positioning of photography in its seminal decades. The multiple interpretative possibilities arising from Bedford's photographs in particular elucidate the range of discussions and complexity of ideas about culture and nature, the individual and the nation, home and abroad, and the past and the present engaging the mid-Victorian public. Major themes of the book include the intersection of nature and culture, the related practice of nineteenth-century tourism, attitudes toward historical identity, and the formation of a national identity in England and Wales, c. 1856-94.
Contents: Introduction; The photographer and his setting; Wild North Wales; The healthful Devon coast; The pastoral Midlands; Architecture, religion and architects; The tour of the Middle East, 1862; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.
Stephanie Spencer is an Associate Professor at North Carolina State University, USA.
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