The Royal Photographic Society recently introduced a campaign to honour one hundred photographic heroines. One of the aims of the Hundred Heroines initiative was to showcase talent that might otherwise have been overlooked. The women listed below are rarely highlighted but each woman was a photographic pioneer in the first days of photography.
My Twitter #100HistoricalHeroines nominations focused on pre-1860 women from several countries and are listed here:
In 1857 wrote that photography “…unites men of the most diverse lives, habits, and stations, so that whoever enters its ranks finds himself in a kind of republic…” That republic also included women.
Anna Atkins was the most significant early female photographer. She created over 400 images for the first photographically illustrated book – 10 years of dedicated work. She brought cyanotype colour to a sepia world from 1843-1853.
Elizabeth Fulhame was the first woman to describe the chemical reaction of light darkening cloth coated in silver nitrate. Her 1794 book was highlighted by photographic pioneer Sir John Herschel in 1839, in connection with the discovery of photography.
Jessica Piazzi Smyth
Today is another astronomer, Jessica Piazzi Smyth (1815-1896). She travelled with her husband to Tenerife in 1856 viewing the moon from high altitude, later printing photographs for official reports. Read about the expedition Google Books
Today’s nomination is the first female French Daguerrotype photographer Maria Chambefort (1818-1875). She became a touring photographer then established a studio in Roanne, Loire. Her daughter Marie eventually took over in 1872. www.sfmoma.org
Mary Ann Robb
Mary Ann Robb nee Boulton (1829-1912) was the third woman to join the Photographic Society in 1853. On the death of her mother in 1829, Mary’s aunt Elizabeth Stockdale Wilkinson took over her care, probably introducing her to early photography.
Countess Mary Rosse
Countess Mary Rosse (1813-1885) became the first photographer to receive the Photographic Society of Ireland silver medal. Mary’s most remarkable photographs show the world’s largest telescope built by her husband in 1845.
Thereza Story-Maskelyne (1834-1926) continued the Dillwyn female interest in photography. Daughter of John Dillwyn Llewellyn, she was interested in botany and astronomy, helping to produce some early images of the moon through a telescope.
The first Welsh female photographer was Mary Dillwyn (1816-1906). Sister of pioneering photographer John Dillwyn Llewellyn, she was interested in new technology. Mary’s c.1853 photographs have been digitised here by @NLWales www.llyfrgell.cymru
Lady Pauline Trevelyan
Today’s nomination is Lady Pauline Trevelyan (1816-1866), a photographer receiving her first camera in 1845. Husband Sir Walter Calverly Trevelyan joined the Photographic Society in 1853 but poor health prevented Pauline from joining the other 1853 women.
Lady Henrietta Augusta Nevill
Another early pioneer – Lady Henrietta Augusta Nevill (1830-1912). Henrietta and her sister Isabel Mary were the first women to exhibit photographs at the first photographic exhibition in 1852. National Portrait Gallery
Today’s nomination is Cecilia Glaisher (1828-1892), wife of Photographic Society President James Glaisher. She exhibited stunning photographs of ferns in 1855 at the Royal Society and can be seen in this online gallery. Fitz Museum
Frances Sally Day
Today’s nomination is Frances Sally Day (c.1816-1892), the first woman to photograph Queen Victoria. Several portraits were taken in July 1859, becoming precious to her majesty in 1861 after Prince Albert’s premature death. Queen Victoria 1819-1901 and Prince Albert 1819-1861
Today’s historical nomination is early Scottish photographer Jessie (Janet) Fergus (1794-1863). Sister of Kirkcaldy MP John Fergus, Jessie was the final woman to take up membership of the Photographic Society in it’s first year, 1853.
Today’s moment in history belongs to Constance Talbot (1811-1880), wife of William Henry Fox Talbot. She assisted with early photographic trials & was the subject of possibly the first portrait photograph in October 1840.
Today’s nominated Historical Heroine is Caroline Taylor (1810-1876), wife of Alfred Swaine Taylor. Her photographs came to light recently in an auction of Taylor ephemera, highlighting a shared interest in photography with her husband.
Lady Caroline Margaret Kerrison
Today’s nomination for our trailblazing female photographers is Lady Caroline Margaret Kerrison. She joined the new Photographic Society in June 1853, maybe inspired by her cousin William Henry Fox Talbot. National Portrait Gallery
Mary Emma Lynn
Mary Emma Lynn (1813-1903). She was the first and only woman of 40 photographers to contribute to the legendary Photographic Club Album 1855 – “Lane Scene in Petistree”. Another inspirational trailblazer. Getty Art Collection
Made history in January 1853 by becoming the first woman to join the @The_RPS. The Photographic Society was one of very few societies allowing women, paving the way for thousands of female society members over 165 years, including me.
Regarded as Scotland’s first female photographer. She worked with pioneering photographers David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson in Edinburgh, described as the “most skilful and zealous of assistants.”
Amelia Elizabeth Guppy
She was the first active female member of the new Photographic Society in 1853, exhibiting her photographs in 1854. An inspirational lady with a love of beauty and adventure.
National Portrait Gallery: Amelia Elizabeth Guppy
Lady Emily Anne Payne-Frankland
New early women photographers blog, Lady Emily Anne Payne-Frankland formerly Gallwey (1821-1913). Another Photographic Society 1853 trailblazer joining with her cousin Lady Caroline Kerrison.
Mrs Ann Cooke of Hull.A widow left to support a large family in 1843, the first woman to obtain a Daguerreotype license in England. She made history as the first woman to appear in a census (1851) listed as a “Photographic Artist”.
Jane Wigley, the first female professional photographer on Fleet Street. She bought a Daguerrotype license introducing artistic influence to her portraits, none of which have been traced. As a single woman Jane succeeded in a man’s world from 1845-1855.
Harriet Ann Tucker
(1808-1875). Two prints dated 1845 inscribed “H.A.Tucker, Calotype taken by Herself” came to light in 1967. The Tucker family were successful lace manufacturers providing lace for royal wedding dresses and veils.
Early American Daguerrotypist Sarah Holcomb. She is recorded as early as 1846, an itinerant photographer travelling in the Massachusetts area. Mother nature, however, sometimes prevented her due to the photographic chemicals freezing.
Emma Frances Johnston
(1834-1905). An amateur photographer specialising in portraits of family and friends taken at her Hampstead home. Emma was particularly skillful in photographing children
Susan Eliza Evans née Gisborne
(1834-1891). It appears that her love of photography was shared by her husband following marriage to Walter Evans. An undated view of Snelston Church in Derbyshire is her only surviving photograph.
Elizabeth Anne Finn née McCaul
(1825-1921) is today’s nomination. She married James Finn in 1847 and moved to Jerusalem where she took up photography. She took inspiration from George Wilson Bridges who was one of the first to photograph Jerusalem.
Blanche Henrietta Pechell née Shelley
(1841-1898), a distant relation of William Henry Fox Talbot through his half sister. Her one known photograph “Ferns and Daffodil” in 1854, reflected the fern craze of the 1850s.
Justine Henrietta Ross née Macrae
(1813-1894). She turned the camera on her husband Horatio and displayed the photograph entitled “The Photographer in His Studio” at the 1858 Photographic Society of Scotland exhibition in Edinburgh.
Emma Thomasina Llewellyn née Talbot
(1808-1881). Emma had an impeccable photographic pedigree – cousin of William Henry Fox Talbot and mother of Thereza Story-Maskelyne. She became a keen practitioner of Talbot’s photoglyphic engraving process.
Margaret J Newton
In 1849 she started taking “likenesses” in Richmond, Ind. She advertised Daguerreotype services and by 1857 her repertoire had expanded to Ambrotype, Melainotype and Hallotype photography.
Elizabeth Withington née Kirby
(1825-1877), an American photographer learning her craft in New York. She and her daughter moved to California to join her gold hunting husband, and provided photographic expertise until 1877.
Lady Frances Anna Georgiana Kinnaird née Ponsonby
(1817-1910). Lord and Lady Kinnaird commissioned the building of a studio and darkrooms on their estate at Rossie Priory.
Margaret Dreghorn Baillie
(c.1821-1870), elected to the Photographic Society of Scotland in 1857. In 1863 she organised a fundraiser – “a collection of nearly seventy photographic views…”fair specimens of the photographic art”.
Mrs Julia Shannon
The first woman commercial photographer in San Francisco. She offered a unique combination of services – Daguerreotypist and midwife. 1850 San Francisco Alta advertised her portraits taken “…by a real live lady”
Lady Mary Jane Matheson née Percival
(1821-1896). She joined the Scottish Photographic Society in it’s inaugural year of 1856 and exhibited her photographs until 1859.
Lady Frances Jocelyn
(1820-1880) A bridesmaid of Queen Victoria, Frances joined the Photographic Society in 1859 and exhibited landscape photographs at the 1862 International Exhibition.
Mrs E Lennie
Mrs E Lennie, an Edinburgh Optician and photographer. She sent a “large assortment of stereotypes and stereoscopic views” to the 1856 Photographic Society exhibition. Her pictures were “equal to the best we have seen”.
Bessie Raynor Parkes
(1829-1925) was better known as a campaigner for women’s rights in Victorian England. In 1847 she taught herself photogenic drawing, producing photograms of New Zealand botanical specimens.
Elizabeth Louisa How
(1821-1893) is acknowledged to be Australia’s first female photographer. She emigrated from England in 1849 with her family, then produced photographs throughout the 1850s.
Sarah Louise Judd
(1802-1886). American pioneer, the first commercial Daguerreotype photographer in Minnesota. She was documented as making Daguerreotypes in spring 1848 and continued for two years.
(1817-1880). Swiss Daguerreotype photographer who published lithographed landscapes based on her Daguerreotype original image, thought to be the first of their kind in Switzerland.
Lady Caroline Emily Nevill
(1829-1887). The eldest of the three Nevill sisters, Caroline contributed architectural views became a pioneering member of the Photographic Exchange Club from 1855-1858.
Jane Martha St John
(1801-1882). A distant relation of William Henry Fox Talbot, Jane started photography during the 1850s taking many Calotypes on a tour of Italy in 1856.
(1815-1901). She opened a Daguerreotype portrait studio in Leipzig becoming Germany’s first female professional photographer, later moving to New York after her husband’s death.
A dedicated Hundred Heroines website can be accessed here