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Rievaulx Abbey

Artist:
Roger Fenton (British, 1819–1869)
Date:
1854
Medium:
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Dimensions:
Image: 35.7 x 29.8 cm (14 1/16 x 11 3/4 in.) Mount: 40.3 x 34.5 cm (15 7/8 x 13 9/16 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005
Accession Number:
2005.100.7
Not on view
From 1854 onward, Fenton made repeated visits to the great Cistercian abbeys of Fountains and Rievaulx, in Yorkshire. Of Rievaulx, dating to 1230 and renowned for the purity of its architecture, only parts of the transept and the early Gothic choir remain. Fenton chose for his vantage point an elevated position in the chancel window so that his lens could encompass the majestic procession of the choir pillars, and frame through the grand arch of the transept the pleasant disorder of the rural view. To enhance the relation between the Gothic structure and its site, Fenton photographed the view at the precise moment when the morning sun would sharply delineate the base of the triforium on the right, aligning it with the contour of the distant hill.

Rather than offering an archaeological or picturesque description of the architecture, Fenton here attempts to convey the stillness of the scene, the vastness of the enclosure, and the smallness of the individual amid the grandeur of nature and the weight of history. The young woman, who serves as a stand-in for the viewer in all the Rievaulx pictures and whose presence is essential to the perception of scale, is Fenton's wife, Grace.
Inscription: Inscribed in black ink, mount recto, BR: "Rievaulx Abbey"; inscribed in pencil, mount verso, TL: "V(1)"
Monastery, Northern England; [Valerie Lloyd], by 1989; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, May 24, 1989

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," May 25, 1993–July 4, 1993.

Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," August 7, 1993–October 2, 1993.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," June 19, 1994–September 11, 1994.

Carrousel du Louvre, Paris. "Constructed Views: Photography and Architecture," November 19, 1998–November 23, 1998.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "All the Mighty World," October 17, 2004–January 2, 2005.

J. Paul Getty Museum. "All the Mighty World," February 1, 2005–April 25, 2005.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "All the Mighty World," May 24, 2005–August 29, 2005.

Tate Britain. "All the Mighty World," September 25, 2005–January 2, 2006.

Lloyd, Valerie. Roger Fenton: Photographer of the 1850s. London: Hayward Gallery, 1988. no. 95 [variant print].

Hambourg, Maria Morris, Pierre Apraxine, Malcolm Daniel, Virginia Heckert, and Jeff L. Rosenheim. The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. no. 13.

Baldwin, Gordon, Malcolm Daniel, and Sarah Greenough. All the Mighty World: The Photographs of Roger Fenton, 1852–1860. New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004. pl. 12.



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