Frederick Evans, 'Ely Cathedral'

Frederick Evans, 'Ely Cathedral'

Frederick Evans (1853-1943)
'Ely Cathedral'
England
About 1900
Photogravure
Museum no. 569-1900

The Photograph

During the 1890s Evans travelled to the cathedral towns of England, pausing several weeks, for instance at Ely, simply to study the light. His rule was to place the camera as far from his subject as possible, select the lens that would fill his viewing screen, and expose for minutes on end, preferably with the lens stopped down to f.32 to achieve a clear depth of field. Mark Haworth-Booth, 'The Golden Age of British Photography', Aperture, 1984

Evans produced pure and unforced images of Ely Cathedral, based on his long contemplation, over a number of days, on the light within the cathedral and his noting of which hour would reveal the deepest shadows and softest detail of the architecture. Evans had arranged with the Dean of the Cathedral to have Victorian gas fittings and chairs removed while he was taking photographs. Evans did take some exterior views of English cathedrals, but his preference was for the interior of which this image is a fine example.

The Photographer

Frederick Evans began experimenting with photography in the mid 1880s while running a bookshop in Cheapside, London. He placed great emphasis, from the beginning, on producing technically brilliant and unmanipulated images.

In 1898 he took up photography professionally, concentrating on architectural subject matter. He produced exquisitely unfettered images of the play of light on architectural forms.

He was elected to the Linked Ring, an organisation dedicated to the promotion of photography as an art, in 1894.

He was the first photographer to have his work reproduced in Camera Work and had his photographs shown by Stieglitz in the '291' gallery in New York. He continued to produce architectural photography in the 1900s, working for Country Life, but had completed his photographic career by 1913.

 

This photograph can be found in Print Room Box 13a.