Image: 31.4 x 44.3 cm (12 3/8 x 17 7/16 in.), irregular
The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Anonymous Gift, Curator's Discretionary Grant from The Judith Rothschild Foundation, and Thomas Walther Gift, 1997
Not on view
The towering figure in British photography of the 1850s, Fenton championed the medium's place among the fine arts and mastered all its genres, including architecture, landscape, reportage, still life, and tableau-vivant. Unlike the immensely popular and widely distributed seascapes of his French friend and counterpart Gustave Le Gray, with their theatrical sleight of hand (dramatic skies printed from a second negative), Fenton's expansive cloudscapes are intensely felt private meditations upon nature, printed once and kept in his personal albums. The descendant of Constable's cloud studies and Turner's explorations of atmosphere and light, Fenton's picture is so minimal and moving that it seems to hover between the visible and the imagined. He infused his landscapes with a distinctly English reverence for the observable world, recognizing, like Wordsworth at Tintern Abbey, "In nature and the language of the sense, / The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, / The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul / of all my moral being."
Roger Fenton's "grey albums"; (sold, Christie's, South Kensington, June 27, 1978, lot 344); [Sean Thackeray, San Francisco]; William Rubel, Santa Cruz, California; [Hans P. Kraus, Jr., Fine Photographs, New York]
Crocker Art Museum. "Masterworks of Photography from the Rubel Collection," January 9, 1982–February 21, 1982.
Achenbach Graphic Arts Council. "Masterworks of Photography from the Rubel Collection," January 1, 1984–February 1, 1984.
Hayward Gallery. "Roger Fenton, Photographer of the 1850s," February 4, 1988–April 17, 1988.
City Museum and Art Gallery. "Roger Fenton, Photographer of the 1850s," April 23, 1988–May 29, 1988.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Inventing a New Art: Early Photographs from the Rubel Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1, 1999–September 19, 1999.
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "All the Mighty World," October 17, 2004–January 2, 2005.
J. Paul Getty Museum. "All the Mighty World," February 1, 2005–April 25, 2005.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "All the Mighty World," May 24, 2005–August 29, 2005.
Tate Britain. "All the Mighty World," September 25, 2005–January 2, 2006.
Thackrey, Sean. Masterworks of Photography from the Rubel Collection. Sacramento: Crocker Art Museum, 1982. pl. 20.
Lloyd, Valerie. Roger Fenton: Photographer of the 1850s. London: Hayward Gallery, 1988. no. no. 87.
Schaaf, Larry J. Sun Pictures, Catalogue Eight: The Rubel Collection. Sun Pictures. New York: Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs, 1997. pp. 45–6.
Daniel, Malcolm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin: Inventing a New Art: Early Photographs from the Rubel Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art 56, no. 4 (Spring 1999). p. 30.
Baldwin, Gordon, Malcolm Daniel, and Sarah Greenough. All the Mighty World: The Photographs of Roger Fenton, 1852–1860. New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004.