|Content Description||James Robertson (1813-1888) was an English photographer and coin engraver. He lived in Constantinople and opened a studio there in 1854 along with his partner, his brother-in-law Felice Beato (1832-1909). Beato sometimes worked with his brother Antonio, jointly crediting their work as 'Felice Antonio Beato'. |
Robertson and Felice Beato travelled to the Crimea together and photographed the scenes of devastation after the fall of Sevastopol on 9 September 1855. Their work became well known through engravings of these war photographs, printed in magazines such as 'The Illustrated London News'. Examples of original prints survive in various libraries, museums and archives. Most probably come from published albums of their photographs. Few albums now survive in their original form, although one exception is an album of 83 'Photographs of the Crimea and Constantinople, 1855' by James Robertson and Felice Beato, now owned by the J. Paul Getty Museum.
This series of black and white 10 x 8 and 5/8" prints contains three distinct series:
Photographs of the Crimea, after the fall of Sevastopol, c. Sep. 1855 (Ne C 10884/2/1-36)
Descriptions of these photographs have been taken from pencil captions, in 19th century handwriting, written either on the back of the prints, or on card mounts on which some of the prints are still stuck. The card mounts are the right size to form a loose album of prints, although no original order is now evident. A few of the prints have been signed 'Robertson', but otherwise it is not possible to determine whether James Robertson or Felice Beato was the photographer.
Photographs of Constantinople, n.d. [c.1853-1858] (Ne C 10884/2/37-50)
Descriptions of these photographs have been taken from pencil captions on the back of the prints, in 19th century handwriting [different from the hand on the back of the Crimea prints]. The date range has been estimated by James Robertson's known movements, and by comparison with the descriptions of a similar series of prints held by the Canadian Centre for Architecture [see their website for digitised versions of the prints]. A few of the prints have been signed 'Robertson', but otherwise it is not possible to determine whether James Robertson, Felice Beato or Antonio Beato was the photographer.
Photographs of Athens, n.d. [c.1853-1854] (Ne C 10884/2/51-61)
There are no original captions to these prints. The date range has been estimated based on the known movements of James Robertson, and by comparison with the descriptions of similar sets of prints held by the Canadian Centre for Architecture and the Benaki Museum in Greece [see their websites for digitised versions of the prints]. The photographs pre-date the formation of James Robertson's partnership with Felice Beato, and are therefore considered to be by him alone.