Exhibitions/ Art Object

The Gate of Goodbye

Francis James Mortimer (British, 1874–1944)
Carbon print
Image: 34.1 x 48.8 cm (13 7/16 x 19 3/16 in.) Frame: 55.9 x 71.1 cm (22 x 28 in.)
Credit Line:
National Media Museum, Bradford, United Kingdom
Not on view
Mortimer, a prominent British Pictorialist, used his darkroom skills to fuel England’s patriotic fervor during World War I. The Gate of Goodbye, his most popular and widely reproduced photograph, depicts war-bound soldiers bidding farewell to their families at London’s Victoria Station. Although such scenes were common during the war years, Mortimer’s photograph is a composite, artfully assembled from more than twenty different negatives—not an outright lie, but an ideologically motivated, aesthetically perfected exaggeration of the truth.
The Royal Photographic Society (RPS) acquired prints and correspondence from Francis James Mortimer's descendants in the 1960s and onwards. In 2003, the National Media Museum acquired the RPS collection. On the history of the RPS collection and their Mortimer holdings, see Pam Roberts, "The Royal Photographic Society Collection," (Bath: Royal Photographic Society, 1994), p. 52.