The Guard Book Project – A Reflection

Seeing Other Things in an Object.

The V&A recently had an exhibition in the Photography Gallery – The Camera Exposed, where every photograph had an image of least one camera, either as deliberate portraits, snapshots, collages, shadows & reflections.

Probably the most famous in the Guard Books are early photographs of Mirror Frames by Charles Thurston Thompson, copies of which became Photographs Department collection items in their own right,

Mirror with carved & gilt frame, Venetian; by Charles Thurston Thompson (1816 - 68), Albumen Print; from the album, Furniture Exhibited at Gore House, Vol.2 by John Webb, 1853.

Mirror with carved & gilt frame, Venetian; by Charles Thurston Thompson (1816 – 68), Albumen Print; from the album, Furniture Exhibited at Gore House, Vol.2 by John Webb, 1853.
Accession number 32639.

Guard book original Negative No.55

Guard book original print No.55

The original is a Guard Book print – Negative Number 55.

 

Another example is print No.61, with the camera on its own, a copy of which also became an object in its own right, with the accession number 32657.

Guard book Print Number 61.

Guard book Print Number 61. ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

 

Mirror, English, c.1730, from Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Forest; by Charles Thurston Thompson (1816 - 68); from the album Furniture Exhibited at Gore House, Vol. II, albumen print, 1853.

Mirror, English, c.1730, from Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Forest; by Charles Thurston Thompson (1816 – 68); from the album Furniture Exhibited at Gore House, Vol. II, albumen print, 1853.  Accession number 32657; ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

 

 

It seems however that this practice of photographing mirrors hadn’t changed very much, for in 1928 over 70 years later, another mirror appears in the Guard Books, with a camera on a stand clearly visible.

Mirror frame; a Victorian electrotype of repoussé silver, with the cypher of King Charles II, the original is in Windsor Castle, showing a reflection of the camera and gallery displays, in 1928

Mirror frame; a Victorian electrotype of repoussé silver, with the cypher of King Charles II, the original is in Windsor Castle. Photographed in 1928.  Accession No. REPRO.1868-98; Negative No.59787. ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London.


A Reflection in objects is sometimes not planned, but part of the techniques available at the time, an example of a guard book, was exhibited, showing objects, a jug and a set of spoons which have reflections of the camera in the object.

Guard Book on Display in the Exhibition : The Camera Exposed, Gallery 38a, V&A Museum, 2017. ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

Another example of reflections in spoons in detail are below, photographed in 1894, loaned by Samuel Montague MP;

Apostle Spoons; silver; showing reflections; owned by Samuel Montague MP; photographed in 1898. ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London.,

The bowls from three Apostle Spoons; silver; showing reflections; owned by Samuel Montague MP; photographed in 1898. ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London.,

 

 

 

 

The lighting of Shiny Things, has always been a problem, the reflections of lights and backgrounds has always been with us, but sometimes they can prove to have an insight into where and how an item was photographed.

If you look in the centre of this decorative plate from photograph 67453, also possibly photographed by Thompson, you can see clearly the glass roof lights above;

Decorative Plate or Salver; silver-gilt; owned by The Arundel Society, Science & Art Department, possibly by Charles Thurston Thompson (1816 - 68); Accession number 67543; ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London., showing centre with reflection.

Decorative Plate or Salver; silver-gilt; owned by The Arundel Society, Science & Art Department, possibly by Charles Thurston Thompson (1816 – 68); Accession number 67543; ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

Ceramics for example can sometimes have a reflection of the room the item was photographed, mainly owing to their shapes, this glass bottle from Persia, has the room clearly visible in the reflection.

Detail of bottle; glass; Persian; 18th century; 59-1905; ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

Detail of bottle; glass; Persian; 18th century;
Accession No. 59-1905
Negative 72175, photographed in 1935; ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London

….and it also happened in groups. All the jugs in this image below, have a reflection.. of windows and the table they are on….

Reflections of windows….Stoneware jugs; part of The English Pottery Exhibition Display;
V&A Museum; 1935. ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

… shining examples don`t you think..?

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