Roger Fenton (English, 1819-1869)
Photographic Art Treasures "Cedars Monmouthshire", Published October 1857
21.5 x 17.6 cm on 25.4 x 22.5 cm paper mounted on 55.8 x 38.5 cm card
Printed title and credits
In early 1856 Roger Fenton began to actively seek a more economical means of reproducing and circulating his photographs to a wider audience. He became impressed by Paul Pretsch's "photo-galvanographic" process which was a photomechanical means of reproducing photographs, drawings or paintings in ink printed on a press. By the end of the year Fenton had joined Pretsch as a partner in the Patent Photo-Galvanographic Company. The company released the first part of "Photographic Art Treasures; or Nature and Art Illustrated by Art and Nature, in late October 1856. Four more parts were to follow which included contributions from not only Fenton alongside others such Robert Howlett and Lake Price. Fenton's hopes for the endeavor were quickly diminished by the growing realization that the plates themselves were not as durable as previously thought; wearing down after only a few inkings. By May 1857 the company was facing severe financial losses alongside the impending threat of legal action from William Henry Fox Talbot who believed the company had infringed his 1852 patent for photographic engraving.
The failure of Fenton's technological foray does not diminish the visual impact of this particular contribution. Fenton's mastery of perspective is on full display as he captures the physical enormity of the cedar by posing the two diminutive figures at its base.