Don Quixote in His Study

William Frederick Lake Price (British, London 1810–1896 Lee, Kent)
J. Spencer
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 31.9 x 28 cm (12 9/16 x 11 in.)
Mount: 42.6 x 33.3 cm (16 3/4 x 13 1/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of A. Hyatt Mayor, 1969
Accession Number:
Not on view
This carefully staged tableau was among the most widely admired Victorian photographs. Price self-consciously sought to elevate the still-new medium to the level of "high art" by emulating the ambitious literary subjects, expressive gestures, and period details of grand history painting. Although this approach was largely overshadowed in subsequent years by one that championed qualities unique to photographic vision, theatrical staging has found renewed relevance in the work of many contemporary artists.
Inscription: Printed on mount, recto BC: "Composed & Photographed from Nature by Lake Price. // Don Quixote in his Study // Nay to such a pass did his curiosity and madness // in this particular drive him, that he sold many good Acres of // Terra Firma, to purchase books of Kinght-errantry. // Sa curiosite et son extravagance arriverent a ce // point quil vendit plusieurs arpents de bonnes terres // able pour acheter des livres de chivalerie a lire // LONDON PUBLISHED MAY 1ST 1857 BY NEGRETTI & ZAMBRA NO 59 CORNHILL & 11, HATTON GARDEN // Printed by J. Spencer"
A. Hyatt Mayor

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 8," March 14, 1995–June 11, 1995.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Beyond the Edges: An Insider's Look at Early Photographs," October 9, 1998–February 14, 1999.

National Gallery of Canada. "Acting the Part: A History of the Staged Photograph," June 16, 2006–October 1, 2006.

Vancouver Art Gallery. "Acting the Part: A History of the Staged Photograph," February 3, 2007–May 13, 2007.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Julia Margaret Cameron," August 19, 2013–January 5, 2014.

Haworth-Booth, Mark, ed. The Golden Age of British Photography 1839–1900. Millerton, N.Y.: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1984. p. 97.

Pauli, Lori, ed. Acting the Part: Photography as Theatre. 1st ed. New York: National Gallery of Canada, 2006. p. 63.