The Dayspring from on High

Artist: Alexander Keighley (British, 1861–1947)

Date: 1890s–1900s

Medium: Carbon print

Dimensions: Image: 49.3 x 32.4 cm (19 7/16 x 12 3/4 in.)

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: Gift of Clarence McK. Lewis, 1954

Accession Number: 54.549.20


As a young amateur photographer, Keighley was strongly affected by the work and writings of Henry Peach Robinson. His early work followed in the tradition of Robinson's sharply focused scenes, but as his own voice developed, it became clear that Keighley's strength was in the creation of atmosphere. He often accomplished his pictorial goal by enlarging his negatives in several stages and working on details of the negative at each interval. This produced rich, carbon prints that swell with evocations of natural experience, as in this photograph. Early morning light envelops the scene from above, cradling the viewer in warmth and the soft vegetation of the woodland surroundings. Such strong emissions of mood are the hallmark of Keighley's photography, which earned him a leading position and much adulation in the Linked Ring Brotherhood.