The Sea of Steps Evans, Fredrick  (British, 1853-1943)

"Throughout the length of the cathedral the viewer is led on a visual pilgrimage toward interior illumination." Anne Hammond

Searching for relationships between light and dark,” Evans sought to express the "Divine Plan” channeled by stonemasons into organic form. For he believed, "The structural qualities of a Gothic cathedral are very closely allied to those organic principles which underlie the growth or cohesion of living things." At age 45, he sold his bookshop to surrender to photography and his "life-long study of the beautiful.

"By use of a 19 in. Zeiss anastigmat on a 10 by 8 in. plate, I succeeded in getting a negative that has contented me more than I thought possible . . . The beautiful curve of the steps on the right is for all the world like the surge of a great wave that will presently break and subside into smaller ones like those at the top of the picture. It is one of the most imaginative lines it has been my good fortune to try and depict, this superb mounting of the steps. . . —Frederick H. Evans, Photography, July 18, 1903.

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.

Reproduced / Exhibited

Frizot, Michael. New History of Photography. Place of publication not identified: Pajerski, 1999. Print p. 309

Nordström, Alison D, Thomas Padon, and J L. Ackerman. Truthbeauty: Pictorialism and the Photograph As Art, 1845-1945. Vancouver, B.C: Douglas & McIntyre, 2008. Print. p 20

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. 17

Newhall, Beaumont. The History of Photography: From 1839 to the Present. , 2012. p. 151 (platinum)


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.