The Nelson Column
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William Henry Fox Talbot
British, London, 1843
Salt-fixed calotype from a paper negative
6 3/4 x 8 5/16 in.

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The Nelson Column was still being erected when Talbot photographed it. Placed in Trafalgar Square, London, it honored Sir Horatio Nelson, the victorious naval captain who died in 1805 during battle at sea off Cape Trafalgar, Spain. At 185 feet in height, the Column interfered with the view from the nearby National Gallery and sparked a bitter controversy regarding the physical transformation of the Square. Talbot's image was made from an angle that caused the base of the column to dwarf the buildings in the distance, including the prominent church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Talbot's decision to focus on the base, letting the column itself extend into infinity beyond the image frame, suggests that he thought that the monument was an oversized intrusion.