Photography – a prosopography

[Prosopography: ‘a study that identifies and relates a group of persons or characters within a particular historical or literary context’ (Merriam-Webster). Based on searches of and The National Archives. See also photographers alphabetically.]


In Camden High Street, no 56 was and active photographer’s shop from the start of the 1860s through to 1913. Arthur Whiting had the premises in 1861 and 1865, and Charles Whiting 1866-67 (called Camden Photographic Studios); James Russell and Jacob Monte were there in 1873-1874, and Amos Bex with his brother Edward 1884-1885. Edward Lambert took the premises in partnership from 1887 and then, with a longer stay, from 1890 on his own through to 1913. Up the street, during the 1890s, Edward Bassett had the premises at 140 High Street, named as North Western School of Photography, while James Periman was at 160 High Street from 1889-1891.


A different pattern emerged with Great College Street. Charles Hinton had a shop at 34 Great College Street in 1857-1859, then at 72 – where from 1863-1865 he was in partnership with William Charleson – and then 1866-67 when both were at No 154. George Canning ran the Metropolitan Portrait Company at 140 Great College Street 1863-1868.


There were also partnerships: Edward Leman and then William Crews were at 2 Camden Road from 1861 to 1865; during the 1860s John Rodmell and Edward Darke worked together at 15 Camden Road; at 4 Greenland Place, a mews workshop near the High Street, Jacob Monte was in a partnership with Giuseppe Diviani 1867-1868 and as Monte and Russell ‘Camden Town Portrait Rooms’ for 1875-1886. James Russell then left the High Street and with his son operated from nearby 34 Brecknock Road (just outside Camden Town itself).


Valentine Blanchard was doubly of Camden Town, as he lived at 12 Camden Cottages (Kings Road) near his studios on the corner of 128 Camden Road – beside the gardens of Brecknock Crescent and looking up the hill of Camden Road. Blanchard lived there from 1865 through into the 1870s, although the studio burnt down through an explosion in 1869.  Blanchard’s Wikipedia entry states: “Both his landscape and his portrait photography were highly valued by the public, commanding high prices and selling well. He was much appreciated by his peers for the technical innovations he pioneered in photographic processes.”

Francis Bedford, who lived at 22 Camden Road Villas, had architectural drawings exhibited at the Royal Academy 1833-1849. He accompanied Edward Prince of Wales on a tour of the Middle East in 1862 and published 172 photographs from the tour in 1863. He was a founder member of the Solar Club 1866 and vice-president of the Royal Photographic Society 1878 – 1880.

Edgar Prout was the most home-grown Camden Town photographer. Born on Euston Road and married in old St Pancras church, he had his studios first at 13 Murray Street from 1868 and from 1887 through to his death in 1900 at 76 St Paul’s (Augustine’s) Road – beside of the cutting of the London Midland Railway, looking down to St Pancras Station at Euston Road.

Edgar Prout, portrait of Edith Waugh (National Portrait Gallery)

Another Prout, suggested as a brother, lived at Camden Terrace West (‘Mocca’s Cottages’) in 1861 and he made photographs of Westminster Abbey and the Thames as well as of the Royal Family in Scotland. He has an 1863 carte de visite in the National Portrait Gallery. Victor Prout, however, travelled to Australia in the 1840s  with his parents and again as an adult in 1867 – while Edgar stayed his full life in St Pancras..

And from those busy times of the 1860s there are a few further stories:

Pacifico Taglia Cozzo, living at 6 Queen’s Terrace in Camden Road Villas, has his photo of the statue “Emperor Cesar August”, 1866, in the collection of the Bibliotheque Nationale, He was Managing operator at Andre Disderi’s studio, Brook Street, Hanover Square, in March 1865: but the studios went into liquidation in July 1868.

James Perriman had the Camden Town School of Photography at 3 Greenland Place, 1871 – 1883, 1 Greenland Place 1884 – 1887 and 160 High Street, Camden Town, 1889 – 1891. However, he served 6 months hard labour in 1891 after he had received – and displayed for sale – photos stolen, by his caretaker, from another studio. The photographic chain Robert Hellis & Sons then took on the shop premises.

Adolphe Ceilueur, who had written from New York for Humphrey’s Journal of Photography in the late 1850s, was living between 1861 and 1871 at Strawbury Villas on Camden Road, at the crest by the Brecknock Arms tea gardens. Adolphe also assigned himself ‘Count Albert Leiningen, cousin to Queen Victoria’ – a quite untraceable heritage. He had a Court case against him by the London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co in 1862, and was bankrupt in 1865.

And there were others – in Bayham Street, Canal Terrace, Cliff Villas, Camden Street, Canal Terrace, Georgiana Street, Pratt Street and Rochester Square – more than 40 in the nineteenth century, who might be either working, living or both in Camden Town

There are few women photographers in existing records, but at 291 College Street on the northern edge of Camden Town, Alice Maud Barker and Albert Oskar Mohr had studios of the Merchants’ Portrait Company. Their portraits included leading suffragettes Catherine Despard and Emmeline Pankhurst.  Their lapel badges for the Womens’ Social and Political Union are in the Museum of London and were shown in an exhibition at Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre, June-September 2018 (Figure 3.12).

Merchants' Lapel badges created by the Merchants’ Portrait Co. in 1911

(Author’s photograph, Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre, Suffragettes exhibition, Sept 2018.)