20 FEBRUARY 1953, Page 14


• To celebrate its centenary, the Royal Photographic Society is staging

a double exhibition. Some forty cases of early apparatus, documents and records are on show at the Science Museum, South Kensington, together with about 300 prints from the society's permanent col- lection. Another 100 prints from the same source, covering roughly the last fifty years, are exhibited at the Society's headquarters, 16 Princes Gate. Of the two, the collection at the Science Museum is by far the more important, and gives students of photography the chance to form a clear impression of developments on the scientific and mechanical side. The early prints—calotypes by Fox Talbot, portraits by David Octavius Hill and R. Adamson, scenes by Roger Fenton and pertraits by Mrs. Cameron—though mainly familiar, are worth seeing yet again. From about 1870 to 1890 the Society has very little to show, and from 1900 onwards—during which a complete change has taken place both in the conception of photo- graphy as an art and in its techniques—the work of members shows little recognition of this change. The photographs chosen to cover the period are in the main examples of elaborate printing methods designed to simulate the effects of oil-painting, etching, engraving and charcoal-drawing. Rarely indeed, among all this laboured ingenuity, does a genuine photograph gleam out. The Royal Photographic Society has now achieved a feat we all find difficult—that of survival for a hundred years. It seems a suitable moment for it to consider how very far the work of its members has diverged from the main course of photographic interest