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Collecting the American Civil War


Lambeth Palace

Roger Fenton (British, 1819–1869)

ca. 1858
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 33.9 x 42.1 cm (13 3/8 x 16 9/16 in.), rounded corners Mount: 38.3 x 45.3 cm (15 1/16 x 17 13/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005
Accession Number:
  • Description

    One of the most striking alterations to London's mid-nineteenth-century architectural landscape was the erection in 1837-50 of the new Houses of Parliament, designed by Sir Charles Barry in association with Augustus Pugin, in the Gothic perpendicular style. Fenton made several photographs of the new building, beginning with general views that he took moving downstream from Lambeth Palace on the opposite bank of the Thames and ending with close-ups that show ornamental details. In this image, which opens the series, the photographer has focused his attention on the south gate of the palace. The powerful Tudor edifice, built from 1486 to 1501, the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, contrasts in its mass and tonal values with the delicate, lacy outline of the new Parliament buildings, showing the Clock Tower still unfinished; the arches of the old Westminster Bridge in the distance provide a graphic link between the two. The scene--with its barren foreground, and in the mid-ground the photographer's van, his assistant, a palace guard, and a lone sightseer--is like a stage set, the old building with its primitive simplicity facing, across the Thames, the self-assured elegance of the new.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Inscribed in pencil on mount recto, BC: "Lambeth Palace"; BR: "L. No. 1"; inscribed in pencil on mount verso, TL: "V. 23"

  • Provenance

    Monastery, Northern England; [Valerie Lloyd, by 1989]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, May 24, 1989

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History