A GROUP of five photographs by pioneering British photographer Roger Fenton (1819-1869) sold for £100,500, some five times above their combined estimate, at Dominic Winter of South Cerney, Gloucestershire on June 17.
Fenton, who studied as a painter in Paris, made his name
photographing the Crimea in 1855, but these albumen silver prints
date from 1858 when, following the Orientalist craze, Fenton made
his London studio the setting for a suite of imagined photographs
of Muslim life influenced by his knowledge of artists such as
He used friends as models who were not always convincing in
A total of 51 photographs are known to have been printed from
the collodion negatives, but fewer than 20 were ever exhibited by
Fenton during 1859 and most were never published. By 1862 Fenton
had sold his equipment and abandoned the profession entirely.
The majority of photographs known from this series come from
Fenton's own 'grey paper' albums sold by Christie's between 1978
and 1982, of which the Getty Museum in Los Angeles holds the lion's
Currently, a large and striking photograph from the suite
entitled Pasha And Bayadere - one of only two known
measuring 161/2 x 15in (42 x 38cm) - is subject to an export ban,
while the National Media Museum in Bradford attempt to raise
£109,000 to buy it. One of the images sold in South Cerney was a
smaller version of this picture with a slightly different
Dominic Winter's photography specialist Chris Albury said: "I
had no idea that these photographs were so rare when I first saw
"It was only when I spotted an export ban story on one of these
that I realised we had a variant of the same photograph, albeit
smaller and without Fenton himself in the image."
This print, measuring 101/2 x 10in (26.5 x 25cm) and inscribed
O[riental?] No 13, carried the top estimate of £5000-8000
and - following a bidding between phone bidders in both the USA and
mainland Europe - fetched £32,000.
The pencil writing on the mounts would seem to indicate the new
discoveries came from Fenton's studio, but their life since then
has been less than glamorous. The vendor, whose father had owned
them at least 50 years ago, believed they had languished in a
damp-stained folder in the attic since Victorian times.
By Roland Arkell
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