attributed to Sir Anthony Coningham Sterling
salt print, circa 1852
3 3/8 in. x 2 7/8 in. (86 mm x 72 mm) oval
Sitterback to top
- Spiridione Gambardella (circa 1815-1886), Painter. Sitter in 2 portraits, Artist associated with 3 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Sir Anthony Coningham Sterling (1805-1871), Soldier and writer. Artist associated with 64 portraits, Sitter associated with 3 portraits.
Linked publicationsback to top
- 100 Photographs, 2018, p. 19 Read entry
During the new medium’s first decades, photographic emulsions were painfully slow, requiring exposures of several seconds, even under bright lighting conditions. This presented a particular challenge in portraiture, as it is difficult for sitters to remain still for such long periods of time. This photograph is all the more remarkable, then, as Sir Anthony Coningham Sterling (1805-71), or someone in his circle, seems to have captured the Italian painter Spiridione Gambardella (c.1815-86) unaware, as if discovered on the street, with an authentic facial expression. Although the pose was almost certainly staged, the natural appearance of the sitter is unprecedented in photographic history. This photograph was originally found in a portrait album of members of the family of the philosopher Thomas Carlyle, his wife Jane, and their friends. In the variant P171(14), Gambardella poses with his son, Dion (1849-86).
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- A Century of Photography, 1840-1940 (17 October 2016 - 29 October 2017)
Portrait setback to top
Events of 1852back to top
Current affairsThe Peelites, a breakaway group who had supported Peel during the Corn Law reforms, join the Liberals. The Conservative Edward Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, becomes Prime Minister after Lord John Russell's Liberal administration collapses. The administration is short-lived and replaced by a new Liberal-Peelite coalition, under the leadership of former Tory George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen.
Art and scienceStart of spiritualism craze in England.
London physician Peter Mark Roget first publishes his thesaurus.
American author Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes the hugely successful anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin
Scottish physicist William Thomson formulates the second law of thermodynamics, demonstrating that a rapidly expanding gas cools.
InternationalIndependent Boer republics north of the Vaal and Orange rivers are recognised by Britain following the Sand River Convention. Later, the Bloemfontein Convention (1854) formally recognises the independence of Boer republics between the Vaal and Orange rivers, resulting in the Boer Republic of the Orange Free State.
Tension escalates in Crimea as France demands that Turkey end Russia's exclusive control of the Christian Holy Places in the Ottoman empire.
Tell us more
Framed & unframed prints