The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography



A portrait of a beautiful model, possibly the photographer's wife Mary, looking upwards in an attitude of prayer.

Photographed by Oscar Gustavus Rejlander in the late 1850s and later issued as a carte-de-visite during the period when his studio was in Haverstock Hill, North London. The critic AH Wall later enthused about the portrait: '...a beautiful and refined profile, with just that gentle curve of the short upper lip which gives expression and appeal'(Photographic News, 18 February 1887, quoted in Father of Art Photography by Edgar Yoxall Jones, 1973).

Often called the father of art photography, Rejlander was a Swede who emigrated to England in 1839. He lived first in Lincoln before moving to Wolverhampton in 1845; he finally settled in London in April or May 1862. Along with HP Robinson, he became one of the leading exponents of ‘high-art’ photography. His Two Ways of Life was a mammoth composite work which caused a sensation when it was exhibited in 1857. In addition to his art photography, Rejlander also advertised his availability as a commercial portraitist but nevertheless died penniless in 1875. His grave in London's Kensal Green Cemetery was until recently unmarked.

Code: 126240
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