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[The Billiard Room, Mentmore House]
Roger Fenton (English, 1819 - 1869)
Buckinghamshire, England (Place created)
Albumen silver print
30.3 x 30.6 cm (11 15/16 x 12 1/16 in.)
A group of fashionable men and women enjoy a game of billiards in a richly furnished salon. The recently completed billiards room, which was designed as a conservatory, is flooded with sunlight, illuminating the lavish interior and creating a dramatic pattern of light and shadows. Indoor photography was rare in the mid-1800s, but the abundance of light and Fenton's skill with the wet-collodion process created a remarkably detailed portrait of the space and its inhabitants. Behind the woman standing in the doorway at the very far end of the salon, a marble bust, mantelpiece, and mirror can be seen in an adjacent room.
Mentmore House was a country residence of the wealthy Rothschild family, but little is known as to how Fenton came to photograph its interior or who the depicted individuals might be. Fenton accepted commissions to document several other country homes, and his surviving photographs of Mentmore House-both interior and exterior views-may have formed part of a commissioned album. Like Fenton's Orientalist scenes, this image reveals a high degree of staging. Only one figure actually holds a cue stick, and several of the women wear hats that seem unusual for the indoor setting.
Photographers of Genius (March 16 to July 25, 2004)
- The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 16 to July 25, 2004
All the Mighty World: The Photographs of Roger Fenton, 1852 - 1860 (October 17, 2004 to January 2, 2006) (72)
- National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), October 17, 2004 to January 2, 2005
- The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 1 to April 24, 2005
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), May 24 to August 21, 2005
- Tate Britain, (London), September 21, 2005 to January 2, 2006
Ten Years In Focus: The Artist and the Camera (March 18 to August 10, 2008) (72)
- The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 18 to August 10, 2008
In Focus: Play (December 23, 2014 to May 10, 2015) (72)
- The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 23, 2014 to May 10, 2015