Roger Fenton

Dates1819 - 1869
RolesArtist, Photographer
BornLancashire, England
DiedLondon, England

After studying law in London, Roger Fenton trained as a painter in London and Paris. He exhibited his paintings and helped found a drawing school that gave evening instruction to working men in London. Active in the arts, Fenton corresponded with French photographers Gustave Le Gray and Henri Le Secq, which may have led him to pursue photography.

Fenton's photographic career was brilliant yet brief. Although his subject matter covered a broad range, he was a photographer for just twelve years. He became one of the founders of the Photographic Society in London and photographed the British royal family. In 1852 he made what are believed to be the first photographs of Russia and the Kremlin. In 1853 the British Museum invited him to document some of their collections. His photographs of the Crimea in 1855 were the first large-scale photographic documentation of war. In addition, Fenton made landscapes, architectural studies of historical landmarks, Orientalist genre studies, and still lifes.

Although Fenton exhibited and sold his own photographs, he apparently grew disdainful of the increasing commercialization of photography. In October 1862 he suddenly gave it up, selling off his negatives and equipment and returning to the practice of law.