Saint Louis Art Museum receives gift of collection of 19th-century photography

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Saint Louis Art Museum receives gift of collection of 19th-century photography
Sir Francis Bedford, English, 1816–1894; “Tintern Abbey, South Aisle”, 1858; albumen print from glass negative; 7 9/16 x 9 1/2 inches; Gift of David R. Hanlon 177:2019.

ST. LOUIS, MO.- Photographer and photography historian David R. Hanlon has given the Saint Louis Art Museum a collection of 19th-century photographic prints that significantly expands the museum’s holdings from the first four decades of the medium.

“We are grateful for David’s generous gift, which is the result of years of thoughtful and discerning collecting,” said Brent R. Benjamin, the Barbara B. Taylor Director of the Saint Louis Art Museum. “It will make a substantial impact on the museum’s holdings of 19th-century photography.”

The gift of 58 photographs and related material includes 12 photographers not currently in the museum’s collection and augments the holdings of seven British and French photographers already represented in the collection.

Strengths of the gift include significant groups of works by the British photographers Frank Mason Good and Francis Bedford, who created serial photographic “tours.” Good explored biblical sites in the Holy Land and Bedford depicted the picturesque remains of Gothic ruins in Britain. Leavitt Hunt and Nathan Baker were the first Americans to photograph ancient monuments in Egypt, and their 1851 paper-negative photograph of Temple of Philae is exceptionally rare. There are also a number of notable portraits, including one from 1856 by Lady Lucy Bridgeman, which now is the earliest work by a woman photographer in the museum’s collection.

Hanlon, who is a member of the museum’s Friends of Photography Collectors Circle, is a photographer and a professor at St. Louis Community College, where he leads instruction in photography and photographic history at the Meramec campus. He is the author of the 2014 book “Illuminating Shadows: The Calotype in Nineteenth-century America.”

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