Photography, Natural History and the Nineteenth-Century Museum: Exchanging Views of Empire, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Photography, Natural History and the Nineteenth-Century Museum

Exchanging Views of Empire, 1st Edition

By Kathleen Davidson

Routledge

234 pages | 8 Color Illus. | 80 B/W Illus.

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Description

The Victorian era heralded an age of transformation in which momentous changes in the field of natural history coincided with the rise of new visual technologies. Concurrently, different parts of the British Empire began to more actively claim their right to being acknowledged as indispensable contributors to knowledge and the progress of empire. This book addresses the complex relationship between natural history and photography from the 1850s to the 1880s in Britain and its colonies: Australia, New Zealand and, to a lesser extent, India. Coinciding with the rise of the modern museum, photography’s arrival was timely, and it rapidly became an essential technology for recording and publicising rare objects and valuable collections. Also during this period, the medium assumed a more significant role in the professional practices and reputations of naturalists than has been previously recognized, and it figured increasingly within the expanding specialized networks that were central to the production and dissemination of new knowledge. In an interrogation that ranges from the first forays into museum photography and early attempts to document collecting expeditions to the importance of traditional and photographic portraiture for the recognition of scientific discoveries, this book not only recasts the parameters of what we actually identify as natural history photography in the Victorian era but also how we understand the very structure of empire in relation to this genre at that time.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgements

Introduction

Rethinking the Role of Photography in Victorian Natural History

Emerging Sites of Production: A Comparative Approach

Formative Visions of Empire

Exchanging Views of Empire

From ‘Immutable Mobiles’ to ‘Boundary Objects’

Making and Moving Images

Peripatetic Objects of Empire and Collections at the Periphery

Navigating the Archive

Chapter 1 – Paper Museums: Photography and Natural History at the British Museum

From Institutional Priorities to Imperial Interests

A Virtual Inventory of Specimens: Circulating New Knowledge and Filling in the Gaps

Private Operators and Entrepreneurs

Chapter 2 – Museum Traffic: Naturalist Correspondents and the Advent of Photography in the Colonial Museum

From German Settler to Cosmopolitan Scholar: Colonial Masculinity and the Rise of the Self-made Man

Naturalist Correspondents, Photography and the Reframing of Natural History

Expeditionary Photography and the ‘New Traveller’s Tales’

Chapter 3 – The Rhetoric of Exemplarity: Portraiture and the Naturalist as Celebrity

Gentleman Amateurs and Professional Bodies: The Social Formation of Victorian Science

The Naturalist Refashioned

Chapter 4 – Nature as Spectacle: Encountering the Moa from Christchurch to Madras via London and Paris

The Origin of the Natural History Collections at the Canterbury Museum

A New Era of the Museum Begins: The Debate over Order versus Spectacle

Portraits and the Press: The Colonial Naturalist as Publicist

Conclusion

Bibliography

Index

About the Author

Kathleen Davidson teaches art history at the University of Sydney. Her recent publications include ‘Colonial Science and Photographic Portraits’ in Judy Annear (ed.), The Photograph and Australia (AGNSW Press, 2015); ‘Connecting the Senses: Natural History and the British Museum in the Stereoscopic Magazine’, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century (2014); ‘Speculative Viewing: Victorians’ Encounters with Coral Reefs’ in Grace Moore and Michelle Smith (eds.), Victorian Environments (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming); and ‘Photography and the Triumph of Science in European Vision and the South Pacific’ in Jaynie Anderson and Christopher Marshall (eds.), The Multiple Legacies of Bernard Smith (Power Publications & AGNSW Press, 2016). Previously, she was Curator of International Photography at the National Gallery of Australia.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART015000
ART / History / General
ART015030
ART / European
ART015100
ART / History / Modern (late 19th Century to 1945)
ART042000
ART / Australian & Oceanian
ART059000
ART / Museum Studies
HIS004000
HISTORY / Australia & New Zealand
HIS015000
HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain
PHO010000
PHOTOGRAPHY / History
SCI034000
SCIENCE / History
SCI100000
SCIENCE / Natural History