Art Photography: Francis Frith
Francis Frith: His travels in Egypt, Nubia, the Middle East and Europe
Francis Frith was born in Chesterfield in 1822. He started his photographic business in the 1850s and set out to record the world around him. He saw the purpose of his enterprise as the accurate recording of the subjects he chose, making his images faithful and true records of the locations he visited.
Firth was also a talented amateur artist and he was able to bring a painter's eye to the composition of his images, ensuring that they combined high aesthetics with a full awareness of what the then relatively new medium offered in technical terms. Frith came from a Quaker background and was a strong family man. He believed that photography should not only record but also have add a moral purpose and clarity to its endeavours.
His business went from strength to to strength and he became the most successful British photographer in the Victorian era. He made what was, in effect, an entire photographic survey of Britain and used his travels abroad to bring the world into British households. Frith's business continued to expand and he employed a number of other photographers to assist him.
This page concentrates on the images that Frith produced of scenes outside Britain. This enabled him to offer the public views of locations in places such as Egypt where archaeology was developing quickly and of locations from the Bible and classical antiquity which were hitherto only known from texts. These produced some of Frith's most memorable images and they were made available to the public either as part of his series of publications or as single prints.
When Frith died in 1898 his company had set new standards in the scale, quality and ambition that photography was capable of achieving. His company continued to expand after his death and by 1914 there were 52,000 photographs in the company's archives.