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BEDFORD, Francis. The Holy Land, Egypt, Constantinople, Athens, etc. etc. A Series of Forty-Eight Photographs..., London, Day & Son, 1866.

The British photographer Francis Bedford (1816-1894) was the son of an eminent architect. He started his career as draughtsman and lithographer, and showed his work in group exhibitions already in 1833. By 1850 he had become well-known for his coloured lithographs of architectural subjects. Around 1852, Bedford took up photography, with the initial aim of enriching his knowledge and enhancing his technique in lithography. In 1853 he became co-founder of the Royal Photographic Society. At that time, photography was becoming indispensable to several fields of knowledge. Archaeologits, architects, naturalists, geologists, anthropologists and art historians documented their studies with photographic shots.
In 1854 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert asked Bedford to photograph works of art from their collection. In the following year, Bedford showed these photographs in the annual exhibition, together with his landscape pictures. In 1857 he accompanied the royal family of Britain as their personal photographer. Already renowned as one of the best landscape photographers, he travelled and took pictures all over Britain.
In 1862 Bedford was chosen as one of the eight personal escorts of Prince Albert in the latter's tour of the Eastern Mediterranean (Egypt, the Holy Land, Turkey and Greece). During the tour, he took two hundred and ten shots, several of which were engraved in wood and published in the "Illustrated London News” and later in an Album. Bedford continued to travel and take photographs in Wales and England until 1884. He took part in international exhibitions in his homeland and other European countries, and was a member of the board of the Royal Photographic Society.
During his journey to the Middle East, Bedford was the first to photograph monuments and ancient ruins of the area. His pictures of the Druze-Maronite massacre (1862) spurred the public's interest in the events and people of the East. Today, the photographs of his album are very much sought-after in international auctions.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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