Sacred and Secular Architecture, 1857 – 1858
Fenton made more photographs of architecture—sacred and secular, urban and rural—than almost any other subject. Rather than exploring new sites, he preferred the time-wracked abbeys and weathered cathedrals popularized through travel books, paintings, and prints. Often he captured distant views that integrated the buildings into their natural surroundings. Moving his camera closer, he also highlighted architectural pattern and detail, frequently including figures to give a sense of scale or to animate the scenes.
Fenton also photographed important civic buildings, including the Houses of Parliament. Works like Westminster from Waterloo Bridge demonstrate his remarkable ability to draw the viewer's eye into the depths of his composition. Collectively, Fenton's architectural studies celebrate the accomplishments of generations of British architects and attest to the deep national pride that infused nineteenth-century British society.