Address: St James's Palace, St. James's, London SW1A 1BQ
When Frances Sally Day portrayed Queen Victoria and her family at the Royal residence on the Isle of Wight, a woman photographer was a rather rare phenomenon. It was 1859 and the English lords were busily planning charity evenings, but the most powerful head of state in the world was a woman and she chose to entrust her public image to a woman’s point of view. Despite the costs and technical difficulty of an art in its infancy, Day had a studio in Piccadilly, exhibited at the Royal Academy and competed successfully in prestigious national contests. Today, her photos are in good company in the Royal Collection, where it is possible to retrace the history of photography from the female point of view from the 1800s to today. Pioneering experiments, crucial technical innovations and revolutions like that of colour film are all touched upon in this thrilling voyage. Queen Alexandra (1844 - 1925) practiced photography, thanks to the new Kodak cameras that made the art much simpler and manageable. The modernist portraits of Dorothy Wilding, the delicate platinum prints of Alice Hughes, the socially relevant photos of Lee Miller and Toni Frissel are just some examples of the variety of styles and approaches. Besides being a means of artistic expression, photography offered women independence - “A life worth living, without monotony,” in “constant and pleasurable contact with humanity,” wrote photographer Olive Edis, before become an official reporter covering World War One.