The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Earl of Craven

Earl of Craven

A carte-de-visite portrait of Lord Craven (1809-1866).

William Craven was born on 18 July 1809 at Charles Street, London. He was the son of General William Craven, 1st Earl of Craven. He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. He succeeded his father on 30 July 1825. On 5 September 1835 at Gorhambury in Hertfordshire he married Lady Emily Mary Grimston, daughter of the 1st Earl of Verulam. The marriage produced nine children.

The Earl of Craven was also an accomplished amateur photographer. The following is taken from the publicity for Noel Chanan’s book on him and his work, William, Earl of Craven & The Art of Photography (Halsgrove, 2006): ‘In 1998, the discovery in a private archive of a long-abandoned group of folios of large-scale nineteenth-century photographs led to the recognition of a new name in the pantheon of British pioneers of the art of photography in the formative years of the 1850s. The name was that of William, 2nd Earl of Craven. A year later, Craven’s masterpiece, a noble album of his most favoured works, entitled A Record of the Earl of Craven’s Photographic Experiments, emerged from a separate source. This album confirmed the rich promise of the earlier discovery. Previously unknown to photographic historians, Craven’s work was unique, covering an extraordinary range of experimentation in the developing techniques of the art, and in his treatment of mood and subject matter, which revealed a profound knowledge of and relationship with the traditions of painting. Though a member of the newly formed Photographic Society, Craven rarely exhibited, preferring to develop his ideas in the privacy of his estate, Ashdown Park, some forty miles west of London. The selection of masterworks, published in book form here for the first time, is set in a narrative of Craven’s life and times.’

The following report of his death appeared in the Times on Monday 27 August 1866: ‘We regret to record the death of the Earl of Craven, which took place at Scarborough on Saturday morning, the 25th inst. It has been his Lordship’s practice to visit Scarborough during the season for several years past. His Lordship arrived at Scarborough this year on the 1st of August, and was seized with paralysis on one side – a similar attack to the one he sustained about eight years ago. The symptoms of paralysis gradually abated until Wednesday last, when Dr. Cooke found the other side was seriously threatened. Thenceforward his Lordship’s condition became alarming, and he gradually sank and expired, as before stated, on Saturday forenoon. Lady Craven, Lady Emily Craven, Lord and Lady Chelsea, and the Hon. Osbert Craven were present at the death of the Earl.

Photographed by Camille Silvy of London on 23 March 1863.


Code: 124727
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