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The English photographer Roger Fenton and the Crimean War (1855)

Roger Fenton (1819-1869), a painter who trained in Paris in Delaroche’s studio alongside future photographers such as Gustave Le Gray, Henri Le Secq and Charles Nègre, turned to photography around 1850. He was close to Queen Victoria and in 1855 received an order to travel to Crimea to photograph the siege of Sebastopol, where England, France and Piedmont were supporting the Ottoman Empire against Russia. From March to June 1855, Fenton provided aseptic images of a bloody conflict, which was very unpopular in Europe.

His “photography truck” was a target for Russian fire. The strong summer light and heat made his working conditions difficult and so he quickly decided that his wet collodion process photography could only take place at dawn.

He photographed soldiers, officers, war correspondents (including the Times correspondent), participated in the daily life of the military staff and, on 8 June 1855, attended the council of war that decided to attack the Malakoff redoubt.

After three months of stressful reporting, feverish and depressed (he had seen friends die and his brother-in-law wounded), Fenton returned to England with 360 photographs taken using the glass print technique, which were printed on salted paper and published in instalments by the publisher Thomas Agnew in London.

These prints, acquired in October-November 1855 by the Duke of Aumale, who was in exile in London at that time, are among the first photographs in his collection and one of the first ever war reports that marked the beginnings of photography.

Useful information

Venue: Château/Graphic Arts Gallery


Exhibition included in the 1 Day ticket with no extra charge


Nicole Garnier, General Heritage Curator, in charge of the Condé Museum.

The exhibition is supported by