2 December 2014 – 1 March 2015
Booking opens soon
‘…photography...is used alike by art and science, by love, business, and justice; is found in the most sumptuous saloon, and in the dingiest attic—in the solitude of the Highland cottage, and in the glare of the London gin-palace, in the pocket of the detective, in the cell of the convict, in the folio of the painter and architect, among the papers and patterns of the millowner and manufacturer, and on the cold brave breast on the battle-field.’
(Lady Elizabeth Eastlake, the wife of Charles Eastlake, the first President of the Photographic Society, The London Quarterly Review, April 1857)
From serene landscapes to exquisite nudes, this new exhibition brings together over 200 extraordinary highlights from the collection of the world’s oldest surviving photographic society, by some of the greatest names in photography.
Founded in 1853, the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) Collection is now held at the National Media Museum, Bradford as part of the National Photography Collection. With over 250,000 images, 8,000 items of photographic equipment and 31,000 books, periodicals and documents, it's one of the most important and comprehensive photographic collections in the world.
In collaboration with the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen in Mannheim, Germany, and with the support of The Royal Photographic Society, the Science Museum has made a selection of key treasures from this extraordinary collection.
Visitors can see some of the earliest known photographic images dating back to the 1820s, by pioneers of photography such as Roger Fenton, William Henry Fox Talbot and Julia Margaret Cameron, alongside contemporary works by some of modern photography’s most influential figures, such as Don McCullin, Terry O’Neill and Martin Parr.
Key artefacts from the history of photography, such as Nièpce’s heliographs and Fox Talbot’s experimental cameras, will also be on display.
Visit Masters of Light: The Royal Photographic Society Collection to discover stories behind some of the world's most famous photographers and their works, and explore how photography has fundamentally shaped our perception of the world.