Lot 2
  • 2

Charles Thurston Thompson (1816-1868)

5,000 - 7,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Charles Thurston Thompson
  • 'Forest Trees', Surrey. A collection of nineteen photographs, c. 1860
Albumen prints, each mounted on card, and captioned and numbered in pencil in an unknown hand on the mount. Each card also with printed credit 'Photographed by C. Thurston Thompson/ For the use of the Schools of Science and Art' below the image. In original card portfolio case, lettered in gilt on the cover.

Catalogue Note

Son of a wood-engraver, and originally a wood-engraver himself, Charles Thurston Thompson shifted his focus to photography in his early thirties. He assisted Henry Cole with the photographic arrangements at the 1851 Great Exhibition and subsequently worked almost exclusively for the Department of Sciences and Art at the South Kensington Museum (later the Victoria & Albert Museum, founded by Cole). A price list of photographs taken for that department by 'official photographer C. Thurston Thompson' was issued by the Museum in 1864. This listed twenty tree studies among the images of furniture, sculpture, arms and engravings. The Museum felt an obligation to make available its photographic images to the general public for educational purposes, avoiding only those objects that the public could photograph for themselves. Undoubtedly out of context in the list, the presence of the tree studies in this catalogue of photographs has been explained by John Physick (Photography and the South Kensington Museum, V&A Mus. Brochure 5, 1975) thus: the views were taken on terrain inaccessible to the general public and as such fell into the category of 'unphotographable'. As Thompson's relation to the Museum went from one of freelance photographer to employee on retainer, he used the services of the Sappers (military engineers), to whom he had first taught photography in 1856, for the printing of his negatives. The Sappers appear in two of the studies in this lot, as does a gentleman in a top hat believed to be Henry Cole, near whose estate many of the images were taken.