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Born in 1819, Fenton studied law and painting before turning to photography, probably in 1851. During the next decade, he produced a body of work that represents some of the greatest accomplishments in the history of the medium. He made ambitious studies of the English countryside, country houses, and cathedrals, as well as portraits of the royal family, a series of still lifes, and studies of figures in Asian costume. Early in his career he helped found the Photographic Society, which later became the Royal Photographic Society. Fenton's photographs documenting the Crimean War, among the first ever to depict war, are compelling studies of the chaos and bleakness of the front.
While several of Fenton's photographs are distinguished by their daring formal compositions, others are notable for their evocative depictions of light, atmosphere, and place. For unknown reasons, Fenton announced his retirement from photography in October 1862 and sold his equipment and negatives at an auction the following month. He died in 1869 at the age of 50.
All the Mighty World: The Photographs of Roger Fenton, 1852-1860, will be the first exhibition in the National Gallery's newly dedicated photography galleries, a suite of five rooms where photographs will be displayed on a rotating basis.
Sponsor: The exhibition at the National Gallery of Art is made possible through the generous support of the Trellis Fund and The Ryna and Melvin Cohen Family Foundation.
The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.