Lunchtime Lecture: Isabel Agnes Cowper: Official Museum Photographer at the V&A

This talk is part of the V&A Academy Lunchtime Lecture Series. No booking is required.

+44 (0)20 7942 2000
  • V&A South Kensington

    Cromwell Road
    London, SW7 2RL

  • The Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre

  • Free event

Lunchtime Lecture: Isabel Agnes Cowper:  Official Museum Photographer at the V&A photo

From its founding in 1853, The South Kensington Museum (now the V&A), promoted a forward-thinking policy that harnessed the potential of photography to dramatically extend the range of resources available to artists, students and the public. As we celebrate International Women's Day, this talk will introduce the life and career of Isabel Agnes Cowper, the Official Museum Photographer now recognised as one of the central figures in shaping the Museum's 19th century institutional photographic practice. Join Erika Lederman as she reveals how Cowper ran the Museum's photography studio and revisits the V&A's archive of 19th century photography, identifying other 19th century women engaged in photographic activities in institutions in Europe from whom the museum acquired photographs.

Join us after the lecture for a creative learning experience where you'll get up close to some of Isabel Agnes Cowper's archive material such as the original letters she sent to Henry Cole and large, signed original 19th century glass negatives. You'll also have the opportunity to put yourself in Isabel's shoes and do some object photography. Places are limited to ten people, please email to reserve your space.

Erika Lederman is a cataloguer of photographs at the V&A. She is currently working towards a PhD on 19th century female institutional photographers, jointly supervised by the Photographic History Research Centre at De Montfort University and the V&A. She was the research assistant on the 2015-16 V&A travelling exhibition: Julia Margaret Cameron.

To see our full Spring 2023 Lunchtime Lecture Programme, click 'Download Programme' on the right of this screen.

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Header image: Photograph by Isabel Agnes Cowper, 'White Linen Jacket with piqué and cord embroidery', ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London