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FitzRoy James Henry Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan

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FitzRoy James Henry Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan

by Roger Fenton
salt print on the publisher's printed mount, 1855
7 7/8 in. x 5 7/8 in. (200 mm x 149 mm)
Purchased, 1983
Photographs Collection
NPG Ax24901

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  • Roger Fenton (1819-1869), Photographer. Artist associated with 39 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

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  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 29 Read entry

    The youngest son of the Duke of Beaufort, Raglan entered the army at the age of sixteen, and was later aide-de-camp and military secretary to Wellington. He lost his right arm at Waterloo, and after the amputation called to the surgeon: 'Hallo! don't carry away that arm till l have taken off my ring'. In 1854, aged sixty-five, he was chosen to command the British troops against the Russians in the Crimea, but, though highly experienced in warfare and heroically brave, he had never led troops in the field. His victory at the Alma raised hopes for the prompt capture of Sebastopol, but the calamity of the Light Brigade at Balaclava (October 1854), a winter of starvation, and the disastrous attack on the Malakoff and the Redan before Sebastopol in the spring of 1855 were blows to morale both in England and at the front. He died of dysentry on 28 June, 'the victim of England's unreadiness for war'.

    Roger Fenton first trained as a painter in Paris with Paul Delaroche, famous for his pronouncement, when confronted with a daguerreotype, 'From today painting is dead'. In 1852 Fenton circulated his 'Proposal for the formation of a Photographical Society', and, after its establishment, became the first secretary. He was the British Museum's official photographer, and in 1854 had a dark room built at Windsor Castle for the use of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. In 1855 he was commissioned by the art dealers Thomas Agnew & Sons to photograph the Crimean War, and with the support of Prince Albert gained access denied to others. Nos. 6 and 7 are from the Gallery's copy of his Historical Portraits, Photographed in the Crimea during the Spring and Summer of 1855, and published by Agnew's in 1855-6. The photograph of Raglan, taken shortly before his death, is characteristic of Fenton's unforced documentary style, which gives his work its acute historical poignancy. Its perfection of technique belies the conditions in which he worked - in extreme heat, often under fire, and threatened by disease (he left the Crimea suffering from cholera).

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Events of 1855back to top

Current affairs

Palmerston becomes Prime Minister, leading a coalition government after Lord Aberdeen loses a vote of confidence over his handling of the Crimean war. Known by the nickname 'Lord Pumicestone' for his abrasive style, Palmerston is the oldest prime minister in history to take up the post for the first time at the age of 71.
Stamp duty on newspapers is abolished, creating the mass media market in the UK as newspapers became more widely and cheaply available.

Art and science

Following a trip through the Holy Land to the Dead Sea, William Holman Hunt begins his symbolically-laden painting The Scapegoat.
John Millais marries Effie Gray, previously John Ruskin's wife, after their marriage was annulled that year.
The social theorist and sociologist Herbert Spencer and philosopher G. H. Lewes, publishes Principles of Pyschology, exploring a physiological basis to psychology.

International

The Fall of Sebastopol in the Crimean war, as Russia retreats, and the exhaustion of the Turkish alliance means the war nears its end. Despite being rebuffed by Florence Nightingale's team of nurses, Jamaican-born nurse Mary Seacole travels to the Crimea, opening a 'British Hotel' for sick and injured soldiers. She gains significant attention and praise for her nursing work.

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