Image: All the Mighty World: The Photographs of Roger Fenton, 1852-1860

Royal Portraits, 1855–1856

A critical factor in the development of Fenton's career was his relationship with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, both of whom took a great interest in advances in science and technology and were intrigued with photography. They became patrons of the Photographic Society shortly after it was founded in 1853 and began to build what would become an important collection of photographs.

Roger Fenton (1819 - 1869)
Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh
1856, salted paper print
33.2 x 26 cm (13 1/16 x 10 1/4 in.)
Courtesy of the Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, Bradford
Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh (detail)
1856, salted paper print
Courtesy of the Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, Bradford

In 1854, Fenton escorted Queen Victoria and Prince Albert through the society's first exhibition. They were so impressed with his work that they purchased more than twenty-five of his Russian photographs and invited him to photograph the royal family on many occasions in the 1850s. In 1856, he went to Balmoral, their residence in Scotland, where he made several photographs of young princes and princesses. Because these photographs were never intended to be seen by the public but were for the queen's enjoyment, Fenton was allowed to record the very private moments of an excessively public family.

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