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Collection Fenton Crimean War Photographs

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Library of Congress

Prints and Photographs Division

Roger Fenton Photos

  • Fenton, Roger. "The Platoon Exercise, no. 3." Albumen print, ca. 1860. Purchase, Rizzuto Fund, 1974 March.
    Call number: PH - Fenton (R.), no. 375 (B size)
  • Fenton, Roger. "The Platoon Exercise, no. 6." Albumen print, ca. 1860. Purchase, Rizzuto Fund, 1974 March.
    Call number: PH - Fenton (R.), no. 376 (B size)
  • Fenton, Roger. The Works of Roger Fenton - Cathedrals. Reigate, Frith, [186-?].
    Call number: NA5461.F4 (P&P Case Z)
    21 albumen prints of cathedrals published by Francis Frith. Disbound and individually mounted, with a separate box of the original published "guard sheets with descriptive letterpress" formerly inserted before each plate.

Popular Graphic Arts prints relating to the Crimean War

  • Day & Son. Sixteen lithographs including, "The Valley of the Shadow of Death," "Highland Brigade Camp," "Siege of Sevastopol," and "One of the Wards at Hospital at Scutari." W. Simpson, del. London: Paul & Dominic Colnaghi & Co., 1854-1856.
    Call numbers: PGA - Day & Son - [various titles] (B size) All have color film transparency reproductions.
  • E.B. & E.C. Kellogg. "The Fall of Sebastopol - Capture of the Malakoff Tower." Lithograph.
    Call number: PGA - Kellogg - Fall... (A size); Reproduction number: LC-USZ62-19365.


  • Brackenbury, George. The Campaign in the Crimea: An Historical Sketch. 2d series. illustrated by forty plates,
    from drawings taken on the spot by William Simpson. 134 p. : plates. London : P. and D. Colnaghi and Co., and Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1856.
    Call number: DK214 .B79 1856 (Case X)

General Collections

  • Popular press accounts can be found in the Illustrated London News (AP4.I3) and the London Times (Newspaper - available on microfilm) for the years 1854-1856.

Related Collections Outside the Library of Congress

(NOTE: The Library of Congress does not maintain these Internet sites. Users should direct concerns about these links to their respective site administrators or webmasters.)

  • George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film
    Rochester, NY External

    An online collection of Fenton's photography, offering a selection of 136 images, covering all aspects of Fenton's work (91 represent the Crimean War), with accompanying checklist. The titles emd in the checklist are usually taken from the object mount and are often the titles as published by Agnew & Sons in 1855 or 1856.

  • Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
    University of Texas
    Austin, TX External

    The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRHRC) has a set of 312 prints published by Agnew & Sons, as well as two other sets (19 prints total) of Fenton's Crimea photographs. The photographs were given to the University of Texas by Helmut Gernsheim. The collection of 312 prints appears to represent those exhibited by the publisher in 1855 (issued as published sets between Nov. 1855 and March 1856). Three online collection level records describe the material; HRHRC also has an unpublished inventory of individual photographs, entitled, "Roger Fenton Inventory." The unpublished inventory states that "[t]hese 360 photographs, therefore, form the most complete and largest collection in existence; they were bought from the Fenton family in 1947 and are Roger Fenton's own set." The HRHRC list was "numbered by Gernsheim with some additions. Underlined titles are Fenton's, parenthesis enclosed titles are Gernsheim's." (Item numbers assigned by Gernsheim appear to be the published numbers.)

  • The J. Paul Getty Museum
    Los Angeles, CA External

    The J. Paul Getty Museum has several Fenton Crimean War photographs. A review of a Getty exhibit of Fenton's "Oriental Suite" can be found at: External

  • The Royal Photographic Society
    Bath, UK External

    The Royal Photographic Society has "780 albumen and salt prints, the largest collection in the world, by Roger Fenton, the Society's founder and first Secretary, including Moscow and Kiev (1852), the Crimean War (1855), the Royal family, landscape, architecture and still life (1860)." According to curator Pam Roberts, very few of the RPS's holdings are of the Crimean War.

  • The National Portrait Gallery
    London, UK External

    The National Portrait Gallery is a good place to search for portraits of some of the sitters in Fenton's Crimean War photographs.

Selected Bibliography

  • Baldwin, Gordon. Roger Fenton: Pasha and Bayadere. Los Angeles : J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996. Call number: TR652.B35 1996

    A good source for background on Fenton (mostly post-Crimean War) and the culture of realism in British Orientalism, as well as Fenton's training as a painter and how he translated the "high art" of painting to photography. Assists in understanding that, given the constraints of photographic techniques at the time, Fenton sought to create, through the poses in which he set his subjects, photographs that could be viewed as paintings (paintings depicting military scenes being considered "high art").

  • Fenton, Roger. Roger Fenton : Photographer of the 1850s : Hayward Gallery, London, 4 February to 17 April 1988. [London] : South Bank Board, 1988. Call number: TR647.F46 1988

    A very good representative sample of the range of Fenton's work from an exhibit at the Hayward Gallery, London, in 1988. Unfortunately, not all the Crimean War photos are included in this volume, though does include all eleven views issued as the Panorama of the Plateau of Sebastopol. In her introduction to the Crimean War section of the exhibit, Valerie Lloyd says, "...the photographs demand to be ‘read' for the detailed observations they provide. The Literary Gazette, virtually alone, read the evidence most accurately: [...] it is obvious that photographs command a belief in the exactness of their details which no production of the pencil can do...." (p. 16) There is a glossary in the back which discusses the photographic techniques available to and used by Fenton, also included is a checklist of the exhibition which identifies some of the photos as albumen.

  • Fenton, Roger. Roger Fenton : with an essay by Richard Pare. Aperture masters of photography series, no. 4. New York, N.Y. : Aperture Foundation, 1987. Call number: TR654.F4625 1987 [P&P]

    Offers a small but nice selection from the range of Fenton's career as a photographer, with an overview essay by Richard Pare. Fenton's "contribution to the early history of photography is one of the most wide-ranging in all aspects of the medium, technical, polemical, and most important, aesthetic. [H]e was able to use what he had learned of composition and organization of the picture plane in a way that was entirely suited to the photographic method." (p. 6) Features a concise chronology in the back.

  • Fenton, Roger. Roger Fenton, Photographer of the Crimean War: His Photographs and His Letters from the Crimea, with an Essay on His Life and Work by Helmut and Alison Gernsheim. London : Secker & Warburg, 1954. Call number: DK214.F45 [P&P] [Frequently emd as "Gernsheim"]

    The essay on Fenton's life and work offers a good perspective of the constraints Fenton was working under; the letters illustrate this further and address aspects of the war not being photographed. Includes 85 photographs, six of which are by James Robertson and a few are by other photographers. Not all are of the Crimean War. The Gernsheims may have had the most complete collection of Fenton's Crimean War photographs "said to include all of those issued on mounts by Agnew Brothers" (Vanderbilt, Guide to the Special Collections of Prints & Photographs in the Library of Congress, 1955, p. 57). One could conclude from this that the titles used in this publication represent those as published in 1855/56. The Gernsheim collection now resides at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.

  • Gernsheim, Helmut. The rise of photography 1850-1880 : The age of collodion. London : Thames and Hudson, 1988. Call number: TR15 .G37 1982, vol. 2, pp. 92-99.

    A section on the Crimean War under "Early War Photographs." A rather hasty account presenting the generally known facts concerning the early attempts by Szathmari, initial attempts made by the British government, an account of Fenton's time in the Crimea, and the war photographs taken by James Robertson and Felice Beato.

  • Gilbert, George. Photography: The Early Years : A Historical Guide for Collectors. New York : Harper & Row, Publishers, 1980. Call number: TR15.G55 1980 [P&P]

    Two chapters are of interest regarding Fenton's photographic career: Chapter 2 - "The Calotype: the first photographs on paper" (the salted paper print process used by Fenton); Chapter 7 - "The wet-plate print: the photograph that opened the west" (the photographic process used by Fenton). Appendix B - "Making calotype (salt print) paper" may be of interest as well.

  • Green-Lewis, Jennifer. Framing the Victorians: Photography and the Culture of Realism. Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, 1996. Call number: TR15.G69 1996

    A study of photography in Victorian times, in particular, how photography was seen and used by those who practiced the art. One chapter and the beginning of another (p. 97-148) discuss Fenton's Crimea photos in the context of the "culture of realism." Green-Lewis presents the Victorian view of the role of photography as verisimilitude achieved by taking the brush out of the artist's hand and replacing it with a camera through which Nature creates an image. Drawings, watercolor sketches, oil paintings depicting scenes of action, which photography could not do, were necessarily impressionistic, therefore lacking the veracity, the realism, imbued in photographs. That Fenton's photographs fail to present a realistic view of war stems as much from the technical limitations of the photographic processes as from the limitations imposed by commercial and political demands. "[A]lthough startlingly unrevealing of the war's hardships, the photographs provide us today with markers of how the fact of the war itself was represented."(p. 101)

  • Hannavy, John. Roger Fenton of Crimble Hall. London : Gordon Fraser Gallery, 1975, p. 44-64. Call number: TR140.F43 H36 [P&P]

    Perhaps the only biography of Roger Fenton written to this date, it offers the fullest account of his life (of which little is known) and treats each aspect of his career in photography. Chapter 5 offers a useful, illustrated account of the war photographs, including Fenton's own report to the Photographic Society "Narrative of a Photographic Trip to the Seat of the War in the Crimea, By Roger Fenton Esq." (p. 50-60). Fenton's account adds much that does not appear in his photographs.

  • James, Lawrence. Crimea 1854-1856: The War with Russia from Contemporary Photographs. New York : Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1981. DK214.J35 1981 [Frequently emd as "James."]

    James offers an overview of photography in the mid-1850s, discussing briefly the several photographers involved photographing the Crimean War. He presents the important points about the circumstances which precipitated the Crimean War, the British, French, Turkish, and Russian roles, and the strengths and weaknesses of the British and Russian armies. Includes 85 photographs by Fenton, Robertson, and others.

  • Kerr, Paul. The Crimean War. London : Boxtree, 1997. DK214.K47 1997

    Collection of illustrated essays by several authors treating all aspects of the Crimean War and reproducing many photographs by Roger Fenton, James Robertson, and Karol de Szathmari, along with original artworks by artists/illustrators stationed in the Crimea. Essays are broad overviews highlighted with numerous quotes from the writings of participants and observers. Features many one- or two-page sections devoted to specific topics, such as: "The armies", "Wives and warriors", "War reporting", and others.

  • Lalumia, Matthew Paul. Realism and Politics in Victorian Art of the Crimean War. Ann Arbor, Mich. : UMI Research Press, 1984. N6767.L34 1984

    Chapter 3 "The Crimean War 1854-56" and Chapter 6 "Photography" are of particular interest. Chapter 3 puts British involvement in the war into perspective and chapter 6 treats photographing the war and Fenton's role, both commercial and political, in the enterprise. For another perspective, placing Fenton's photos into the context of civilian concern over the conduct of the war, chapter 4 "The Popular Media" discusses the presentation of the war through the popular press (the implicit role of Fenton's photographs was to refute the negative reports appearing in British newspapers).

  • Milhollen, Hirst D. "Roger Fenton, Photographer of the Crimean War" in A Century of Photographs, 1846-1946. Compiled by Renata V. Shaw. Washington : Library of Congress, 1980, p. 18-23. Call number: TR6.U62 D572 [P&P]

    A brief introduction to the Library of Congress's Roger Fenton Crimean War photograph collection.

  • Nolan, Edward H. The Illustrated History of the War Against Russia. London : J.S. Virtue, [1857] Call number: DK214.N78

    Comprehensive two volume history of the Crimean War with engraved portraits, some after Fenton photographs, views of cities and landscapes, battle scenes, and seven maps.

  • Trachtenberg, Alan. Reading American Photographs : Images as History, Mathew Brady to Walker Evans. New York : Hill and Wang, A division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989. Call number: TR820.5.T73 [P&P]

    Trachtenberg does not deal with the Crimean War, but the chapter "Albums of war" offers corroborating support to issues raised concerning the limitations of 19th century photography and the photography of war. "[I]t is noteworthy that Civil War photographers frequently resorted to stagecraft, arranging scenes of daily life in camp to convey a look of informality… However composed and staged, they bear witness to real events."(p. 73).

Further Background on the Crimean War

  • Barbary, James. The Crimean War. New York : Hawthorn Books, Inc, 1970. Call number: DK214.B3 1970
  • Cadogan, George and Somerset J. Gough Calthrope. Cadogan's Crimea. New York : Atheneum, 1980. Call number:DK215.C332 1980
  • Duberly, Frances Isabella. Journal kept during the Russian War. London : Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1855. Call number: DK214.D81
  • Godman, Temple. Letters Home from the Crimea, ed. by Philip Warner. Gloucestershire : Windrush Press, 1999. Call number: DK215.G55 1999

    As a member of the 5th Dragoon Guards, a cavalry unit, Godman was among the first troops to leave England and among the last to return in June 1856. He was both critical of and caught up in the British military's purchase system, and his letters to his father are filled with concern over promotion and the possibility of getting his own troop, either by purchase or by advance. The 5th Dragoon Guards, as part of the Heavy Brigade, made a gallant charge during the Battle of Balaklava. It was the only real action Godman was involved in, but as an adjutant officer he was kept very busy at the troop level with official duties. He describes his own living conditions, with respect to the privileges of being an officer, so that one gets the sense of what camp life must have been like for the regular troops.

  • Gooch, Brison D. "A Century of Historiography on the Origins of the Crimean War." The American Historical Review, (1956) 62: 33-58.
  • Gowing, Timothy. Voice from the Ranks : a Personal Narrative of the Crimean Campaign. Edited by Kenneth Fenwick. London : Folio Society, 1954. Call number:DK214.G64
  • Hart. Henry George. Hart's annual army list. London : J. Murray, 1840- (annual) U11.G7 H3

    A valuable source of names of soldiers, their ranks, and military units to which they were attached. Used to identify many of the officers and men photographed by Fenton.

  • Lambert, Andrew D. and Stephen Badsey. The Crimean War. Dover, N.H. : A. Sutton, 1994. DK214.L42 1994 [P&P]

    Presents the viewpoint of the published press through excerpts from the Times war correspondent William Howard Russell. These excerpts cover the full scope of the war, offering descriptions of battles, the hardships faced by the Allied armies, criticism of the conduct of officials both at home and in the Crimea, and good descriptions of the landscape over which the troops traveled and fought. This is also a good source for the names of many of the major participants, as well as bits about their lives and deaths, as the case may be.

  • Palmer, Alan. The Banner of Battle: The Story of the Crimean War. New York : St. Martin's Press, 1987. Call number:DK214.P3 1987
  • Rich, Norman. Why the Crimean War? A Cautionary Tale. New York : McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1991. Call number:DK215.R53 1991

    A very good, thorough analysis of the diplomacy surrounding the Crimean War.

  • Royle, Trevor. Crimea: the great Crimean War, 1854-1856. New York : St. Martin's Press, 2000. Call number: DK214.R69 2000

    A comprehensive account including the diplomacy that led to war, the Baltic campaign, the battles in the Crimea, and the final peace negotiations, as well as some analysis of the long term implications for the end of the 19th century and into the 20th. Contains minor flaws, some derived from Palmer.

  • Tolstoy, Leo. Tolstoy: Tales of Courage and Conflict. Introduced and edited by Charles Neider. New York : Cooper Square Press, 1999. Call number: PG3366.A15 N45 1999

    Contains Tolstoy's "sketches" of the siege of Sevastopol and related tales of his experiences as a Russian soldier.

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