Victorian Stereoscopy, Henry Wallis (1830-1916), ‘The Death of Chatterton’Regular price Price on Request
© The Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy
Digital archival fine art print hand signed by Sir Brian May
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Accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity
When stereoscopy was invented by Charles Wheatstone in the 1830s, it struck a chord with photographers and painters alike. In fact, many artists of the time felt that while photographs and paintings were still the best way to view an image, stereoscopy was the best way to experience it; it was widely regarded as a new, more tactile form of realism.
This print is of Pre-Raphaelite painter, Henry Wallis’s ‘The Death of Chatterton’. The artwork depicts the moments following Chatterton’s suicide, after he had poisoned himself with arsenic. Thomas Chatterton was a renowned poet and somewhat of an icon to the romantics of the Victorian era, and like the romanticized trope of all artists from this period, life must conclude with a tragic death.
When looking at this image through a stereoscopic viewer, the scene becomes so much more visceral. Ironically, it makes the image come to life and so Thomas Chatterton’s dead body becomes more tangible. While it is a tragically beautiful scene to ‘view’, when you ‘experience’ it through the lens of stereoscopy, it does feel real, giving you the chance to become one Chatterton’s peers, almost as if you were a fellow starving poet who went up to Chatterton’s attic, only to find his lifeless body.
Some time in 1854, at 313 Oxford Street, the 'London Stereoscope Company' was born, and under the leadership of Managing Partner George Swan Nottage, by 1856 the company had changed its name, to 'The London Stereoscopic Company”' and finally in May 1859 assumed the name it was to retain for years to come: the 'London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company'.
Their business was selling stereo views and viewers to the public, and they were leaders in a boom – a craze - which swept England, Europe, and eventually the United States too, of stereo photographs of every conceivable subject, which, viewed by means of a stereoscope, presented scenes in life-like three dimensions. In a world which had never experienced Television, the Movies, or the Internet, this was understandably a revelation. In February 1856, the London Stereoscopic Company (LSC) advertised, in the Photographic Journal, 'The largest collection in Europe, upwards of 10,000' stereo views.
Much of the workings of the LSC in its early years is still shrouded in mystery, and the relationship it had with the pioneering photographers whose work it published remains unclear, but the company was evidently at a peak of production by the end of the 1850s; today’s collections of the finest cards from this period by James Elliott, Alfred Silvester, Mark Anthony, Charles Goodman, and many others always contain large numbers of examples bearing the familiar blindstamps of the LSC. In the 1860s, one of the LSC’s notable publications of stereo cards was a long series depicting the interior of the 1862 International Exhibition, in what is now Exhibition Road, South Kensington.
All Queen and Victorian fine art prints are selected and hand-signed by Sir Brian May, and are accompanied by a gallery certificate of authenticity, a Queen stereo card pack and a Lite Owl Viewer, designed by Brian May.
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