The Photos of Roger Fenton on Display at the Queen’s Gallery

The Photos of Roger Fenton on Display at the Queen’s Gallery
#Exhibitions

When Roger Fenton arrived in Crimea in March of 1855 to photograph the war, the campaign which, for twelve months, had wrought havoc on men and their machines had already run its course. Yet, the photos that he took immortalised the fatigue of the battered troops and the desolation of the landscape, destined to become the most significant visual record of the conflict, thus giving life to the genre of war photography thereafter. Exploring the reality of the conflict, but also the tight relationship between the royal family and the fighters that served the country in battle, is the exhibition Fenton's Photographs of the Crimea, 1855, on display at the Queen's Gallery. The Crimean War saw Great Britain, France, the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Ottoman Empire allied against the attempt of Russia to expand its influence in Ottoman territory. The impact of the conflict on the Victorian public at large was profound. It was only the advent of photography that enabled the public to see the war for the first time, as if they were right there on the battlefield. Fenton was already relatively famous when he journeyed to Crimea, volunteering when the British government asked for help from the Royal Photographic Society in organising a photographic mission. He spent three months there, taking around 360 photos, travelling and working in a sort of mobile darkroom which he had fashioned out of a wine merchants’ truck wagon. And while the Victorian sensibilities prohibited Fenton from reproducing scenes of battles and death, the photographer was more than capable of portraying the destructive power of war through his photos dominated by totally desolated landscapes.
Samantha De Martin - © 2018 ARTE.it for Bulgari Hotel London