Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Isle
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Roger Fenton
British, Northumbria, 1856
Salt print
11 15/16 x 14 5/8 in.

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Roger Fenton described the French architectural photographs he had seen in Paris as "subjects…equally interesting to the antiquarian and the lover of the picturesque." He could easily have been writing about his own work.

The French government's commissions to document and preserve their national historical monuments greatly impressed Fenton. A similar preservation movement, privately funded, was thriving in England when he undertook a series of photographs of Lindisfarne Priory in Northumbria. In this image, the soaring arch over the crossing of nave and transept still stands triumphant amidst the rubble. The seated figure in the foreground lends dramatic evidence of the original structure's massive scale, still intact enough to reveal its vaulted splendor.