Photographic Facsimiles of the Remains of the Epistles of Clement of Rome. Made from the Unique Copy Preserved in the Codex Alexandrinus.
Roger Fenton (British, 1819–1869)
Frederic Madden (British, 1801–1873)
Salted paper prints from glass negatives
Images: 34.3 x 29.8 cm (13 1/2 x 11 3/4 in.)
Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2009
Not on view
In 1853 Fenton was hired as the first official "Photographer to the British Museum." Eager, in his own words, "to be connected with so useful an application of the photographic art," he made thousands of photographs that helped the museum catalogue, classify, and publicize its growing collection. This album is a facsimile of the Clementine Epistles, a letter and a sermon dating from the first and second centuries, ascribed to Saint Clement, the fourth Pope and an early Bishop of Rome. The Epistles are among the oldest extant Christian documents aside from the New Testament itself. An appealing aspect of this album is the visual conundrum that arises from the conflation of what is depicted and the depiction itself-the surface of the manuscript page and the surface of the photograph. The lettering of the manuscript shares space with inscriptions in the negative, notations on the print, and, occasionally, the fingers of Fenton's assistant holding down the manuscript page.
Inscription: Inscribed in ink on the front fly-leaf: "Press I // Shelf F. // Vol. 195 [crossed out with "21" in pencil to the right]; circular stamp with coat of arms on title page in red ink: "BRITISH MUSEUM // NATURAL HISTORY"
The British Museum, London; [...]; [Bernard Quaritch Ltd, London, by 1973]; A. K. Henderson, November 6, 1973; [sale, 2008]; [Bernard Quaritch Ltd., London, 2008]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Surface Tension," September 15, 2009–March 15, 2010.