Holy Street Mill, Chagford, Devon Bedford, Francis  (British, 1816-1894)

This portfolio contains sixteen hand-pulled dust-grain photogravures of rare masterpieces from Britain’s greatest photographers, published in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The portfolio features important works by nineteenth-century masters of the medium such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Frederick H. Evans, Lady Hawarden, David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, Oscar G. Rejlander, Henry Peach Robinson, William Henry Fox Talbot, and Benjamin Brecknell Turner. Wherever possible, the plates have been made from the photographer’s original negatives, many of which were unavailable until production of this portfolio. Each image is printed on 100 percent cotton rag, mold-made papers, with inks created especially for this project. The renderings have been accomplished in close collaboration with the Keeper of the Victoria and Albert Museum Collection, thus assuring fidelity to the original. The portfolio is accompanied by an introductory text by Mark Haworth-Booth, Curator of Photographs at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Francis Bedford was born in London in 1816, the eldest son of the architect Francis Octavius Bedford. He studied art and architecture from an early age, and first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1833 when he was only 17, and exhibited annually from 1844 until 1849. He devoted the early part of his career to lithography and chromolithography, his work being published widely. Turning to photography in 1851 or 1852, he quickly earned a reputation as one of the finest architectural and landscape photographers of his day. An early and enthusiastic member of both the North London Photographic Association, and the Photographic Society of London, on the Council of which he served for many years, and as Vice President twice, being elected in 1861, and again in 1878. Little is known of his private life except that he had one son, William born 1846, who later joined him in the photographic business. After Francis’s semi-retirement from professional photography in the 1870s, William ran the business until his death in 1893 at the age of 47. Francis Bedford died the following year, 1894. (Encyclopedia of Ninteenth-Century Photography)