The Great Pyramids at El Giza Frith, Francis  (British, 1822-1898)

Francis Frith’s The Pyramids of El-Geezdeh from the Southwest is almost an early-photography cliché. Pyramids were favorites because (a) they’re not going anywhere, and so they tolerate long exposure times, (b) they offer excellent formal elements for contrast, such as, for example, when a side of the pyramid that reflects light abuts a side in shadow, and (c) they enable photography to do what early photography loved to do, and what vacation pictures the world over do today, which is to bring the exotic back home. The level of detail Frith was able to render and Jon Goodman was able to reproduce in this photogravure is sublime.

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 cotton rag, mold-made papers, with inks created especially for this project.

Reproduced / Exhibited

Malcolm R. Daniel, and Florian Rodari. Graver La Lumière: L’héliogravure D’alfred Stieglitz À Nos Jours Ou La Reconquête D’un Instrument Perdu. Vevey, Suisse: Fondation William Cuendet & Atelier de Saint-Prex, 2002. p. 19

Jeffrey, Ian. Photography: A Concise History. London: Thames and Hudson, 1981. no. 19′.

Vogt-O’Connor, Diane, and Joan Redding. Guide to Photographic Collections at the Smithsonian Institution. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989. (vintage)


Haworth-Booth, Mark. The Golden Age of British Photography 1839-1900: Photographs from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London with Selections from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Royal Archives Windsor Castle. Millerton NY: Aperture, 1984.