Caldesi and Montecchi (active 1850s)
'Una and the Wood Nymphs after W. E. Frost, A. R. A.'
Museum no. 34:436
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Caldesi and Montecchi were highly sought-after photographers during the 1850s, particularly for their skills in portraiture. The partners were summoned to capture a series of images of the royal children, for example. They were also well known for their reproductions of works of art. The photographs they included in the 1858 exhibition at the South Kensington Museum were praised by the Athenaeum (20 February 1858): 'The copies of paintings made by Messrs. Caldessi and Montecchi are … minute, careful and successful,-truer, softer, and surer than engravings, and expressing more of the colour and sentiment of the picture.'
The image Una and the Wood Nymphs depicts an allegory from Edmund Spencer's poem The Faerie Queene, first published in 1590. Although the V&A does not hold this particular painting by William Edward Frost (1810-77), several of his other oils form part of the Museum's Collection. Frost was best known for his success in painting the female nude. He was elected an associate member of the Royal Academy in 1846 and full member in 1870.