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Wharfe and Pool, Below the Strid

Artist:
Roger Fenton (British, 1819–1869)
Date:
1854
Medium:
Salted paper print
Dimensions:
Image: 34.5 x 28.2 cm (13 9/16 x 11 1/8 in.) Mount: 56.8 x 44.9 cm (22 3/8 x 17 11/16 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Purchase, W. Bruce and Delaney H. Lundberg Gift, 2005
Accession Number:
2005.100.8
Not on view
The river Wharfe in Yorkshire was a favorite with tourists in Fenton's time. The setting of Bolton Priory (known as Bolton Abbey) on a promontory overlooking the river inspired Turner and was praised by Ruskin. Fenton may have made this image on his first photographic expedition through Yorkshire in 1854. He showed his views of Bolton and its surroundings, together with those of Fountains and Rievaulx, at the annual exhibition of the Photographic Society in January 1855. These photographs established him as a master of architectural and landscape photography.
Boldly facing into the sun, Fenton chose to focus his lens on that part of the river where the water, after rushing through the turbulent pass of the Stride, a rocky channel a few feet wide, slows down and settles into a pool. Emulating Turner, he conceived of his subject in terms of light, here light trapped between the banks of the river, uniting sky and water in a continuous flow. As in the paintings of Turner, Fenton's figures are present mainly to animate the foreground. The photographer would seek similar painterly effects in other landscapes, but this image, with its faintly modulated expanse of airy emptiness, remains one of his most radical.
Inscription: Photographer's oval blindstamp on mount, recto BR: "R. FENTON"; inscribed in pencil on mount, verso BR: "The Wharfe Pool below the Strid"
[Hans P. Kraus, Jr., New York]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, Jan. 17, 1991

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