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Hans P. Kraus Jr. to Exhibit Early British Masters of Photography at Masterpiece London
William Henry Fox Talbot, Roofline of Lacock Abbey, likely 1839. Photogenic drawing negative, 9.3 x 11.6 cm.

LONDON.- Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs will participate in the gallery’s first art fair in the U.K., Masterpiece London, 30 June – 5 July 2011, at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. The exhibition, Early British Masters in Photography, will include work by William Henry Fox Talbot, Hill & Adamson, Anna Atkins, Roger Fenton, Julia Margaret Cameron, Lewis Carroll, and Alvin Langdon Coburn.

Among the highlights of Early British Masters in Photography will be a rare album by Scottish photographers David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson. The Bicknell Album contains 100 exquisite salt prints of Hill & Adamson’s most celebrated images from 1843 to 1847 and is the only known large presentation album of their work still in private hands. The exhibition at Masterpiece London marks the first time it will be on view to the British public.

The brief partnership of Hill (1802-1870) and Adamson (1821-1848) is one of the greatest collaborations in the history of photography. They consistently produced masterpieces, one after the other, during the first decade of photography. Tragically, Robert Adamson died in January, 1848, at the age of 26. D.O. Hill never again took a memorable photograph. He did, however, activate a plan to select their best images, to be bound into fine albums. Except for The Bicknell Album, all other known Hill & Adamson albums are in permanent public collections.

Henry Bicknell was a major 19th century art collector and the son of J.M.W. Turner’s most significant patron. Hill personally selected and assembled the 100 calotypes for Bicknell’s album. The majority of the photographs are portraits, some of Hill & Adamson themselves, including The Artist and the Gravedigger, 1843-1847. Twenty prints are from the Newhaven series of fishermen and women which documented the proud and hardworking people of that fishing village. These powerful and evocative studies constitute the first significant photographic documentary project and are Hill & Adamson’s finest work.

The earliest photograph on view will be Talbot’s Roofline at Lacock Abbey, a paper negative of his ancestral Wiltshire home, likely taken in 1839, the year photography was invented. Talbot found that parts of the building lying in shade displayed no detail, and the result is the negative’s dramatic simplification of the roofline, emphasizing the varied chimneys that still ornament its profile today.

Anna Atkins, the first woman photographer, is represented by Cheilanthes radiata, a dramatic cyanotype photogram from 1852-1854. It is a plate from her presentation album British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns.

Roger Fenton, one of Britain’s most influential photographers, traveled to Russia in 1852, the year he turned from painting to photography. On his journey, working in rugged conditions, Fenton made some of the first photographs of that country. Post House, Kief, a salt print from a paper negative, is a striking example and one of Fenton’s earliest photographs.

Julia Margaret Cameron’s dramatic portrait, Stella – study of Mrs. Herbert Duckworth, an 1867 albumen print, depicts the timeless Victorian beauty who was Cameron’s niece and the mother of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell.

The skies over prewar London are captured in Alvin Langdon Coburn’s Wings!, an exquisite gum over platinum print the photographer presented to his friend, the cubist painter Max Weber, in 1914.

In addition to early British photographers, the exhibition will include work by Gustave Le Gray and Edward Steichen. The American artist Steichen’s elegiac and painterly composition, Little Round Mirror, 1902, is considered one of his most important early achievements in photography. A gum over platinum print, it is one of only four exhibition prints known.

Early British Masters in Photography will be on view from 30 June - 5 July 2011, at Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs at Masterpiece London, Stand D25. The telephone number at the stand is +1 917 273 4609.

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