The AMICA Library
AMICA Library Year:
1822 - 1898
Francis Frith British, 1822-1898Francis Frith, best known for his views of Egypt and the Middle East, was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. A Quaker, he attended Ackworth School and Quaker Camp Hill School in Birmingham (about 1828-38), then apprenticed in a Sheffield cutlery house before working in a wholesale grocery business. He began photographing in 1850 and three years later helped to found the Liverpool Photographic Society. In 1856 Frith embarked on an extensive tour of Egypt, traveling up the Nile from Cairo to Abu Simbel, and returning in July 1857. Inspired by this journey's success, that November he traveled again to Egypt and the Holy Land for about six months. During a third trip, in 1859-60, he voyaged up the Nile to the Sixth Cataract, farther than any photographer before him. These excursions were difficult; besides the desert heat, sand, and flies, the wet collodion process used by Frith meant traveling with numerous crates filled with cameras, chemicals, and darkroom equipment. The firm of Frith & Co. was established at Reigate, Surrey, in 1860, becoming one of the most important publishers of European topographic and architectural views. It continued under the direction of his descendants for well over a century. Previously, Frith's large views had been published in London by Thomas Agnew & Sons, and James S. Virtue, and his stereographs by Negretti & Zambra. Frith's 1876 catalog included more than 4,000 views, and his works and travelogue were assembled into several albums, which sold well as souvenirs and to armchair travelers. Many of the photographs certainly were taken by operators working for him. However, a number of Frith's prints, especially his large glass plate views of Egypt and the Middle East, still astonish with their grandeur of vision. T.W.F.
Fallen Statue at the Ramesseum, Thebes
Creation Start Date:
Creation End Date:
Materials and Techniques:
albumen print from wet collodion negative
Image: 38.3cm x 48.2cm
The Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund
Written in black ink on recto of mount: "[Frith, Photo. 1857] The RAMESEUM of EL-KURNAH/Thebes - First View"
Overcoming both physical dangers and technical difficulties, Francis Frith traveled to obscure regions of the world to capture exotic images for an eager Victorian audience. Taken on the second of three trips to Egypt, this photograph was created with amammoth plate (typically an 18-x-22-inch glass negative), which enabled the artist to capture the smallest details of a scene. Here Frith conveyed the monumentality of the ancient Egyptian sculpture by including members of his expedition in the picture. The image was published in an album containing 20 mammoth-plate views, the only published volume of Frith's large photographs and one of the first devoted to large-scale prints.
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