This remarkably well-preserved album of 70 prints by the Victorian photographer Oscar Rejlander was discovered in a private collection.

Its re-emergence represents a significant advance for photographic scholarship. Rejlander is thought to have been born in Sweden in 1813 and later studied and worked in Rome as a photographer and portrait painter. He then moved to England, establishing a photographic studio in Wolverhampton in 1846 before finally settling in London in 1862.

By the mid-1860s, Rejlander had become one of Britain's most celebrated photographers, with patrons including Prince Albert and Charles Darwin. He was much admired for his naturalistic portraits, made using an innovative technique which combined several negatives.

This album was probably compiled by the photographer himself for display to private clients; an inscription mentions it being lent to Prince Albert and Pope Pius IX. Sitters identified in the portraits include Rejlander himself, his wife Mary Bull, and Lord Alfred Tennyson's son Hallam.

The large-format prints, several of them previously unknown, are made from the original negatives and illustrate Rejlander's pioneering style. They therefore represent a valuable addition to the National Portrait Gallery's existing holding of 15 smaller-scale, less well-preserved works by Rejlander.

Provenance

Herbert Acland Browning; by descent


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