The British photography firm Robinson & Cherrill began with Henry Peach Robinson, who was born in Ludlow (Shropshire), England on July 9, 1830. His artistic aptitude led him to several jobs with printers and London booksellers, during which time he became an accomplished painter and sketch artist. This led to an interest in composition, which inspired Mr. Robinson to combine the art of painting with the new medium of photography. He opened a studio first in London, and then later relocated to Tunbridge Wells in Kent. Nelson King Cherrill was born in Kent on April 27, 1845. His interest in photography led him to an introduction to Mr. Robinson, who hired him as an assistant in 1868. Mr. Cherrill soon established his reputation as a "young and rising photographer" who specialized in landscapes. Mr. Robinson took notice of his apprentice's potential, and the duo soon became business partners.
Robinson & Cherrill was, while it lasted, a perfect marriage between art and intellect, creative composition and technical precision. The team flourished in artistic photography and studio portraits, and their ornate gallery proudly displayed the nearly 50 medals received from European and American exhibits. Their artistic mastery is particularly evident in such scenic photographs as Evening on Culverden Down (c. 1870) and Seascape at Night (1872), which masterfully combines painting techniques with landscape photographic processes. The Beached Margent of the Sea (1870) is lauded by modern-day photo historians as a masterpiece of landscape realism and artistic imagination. Clouds and seagulls were added to enhance the seascape without altering the beauty of the natural landscape.
For reasons that remain unclear, the partnership abruptly dissolved in 1875, and the following year Mr. Cherrill moved to New Zealand, where he became one of the country's most successful and innovative photographers. Mr. Robinson was forced to retire from commercial photography in 1888 as his health declined due to the occupational hazard of inhaling toxic chemicals. He shifted his attention to operating his various studios, writing books and contributing to scholarly journals. Henry Peach Robinson died in Kent on February 21, 1901 at the age of 70. His one-time partner Nelson King Cherrill later returned to England, where he died in Surrey at age 71 on September 18, 1916. Of Robinson & Cherrill's brief but highly successful collaboration, an art critic wrote, "Messrs. Robinson and Cherrill's instantaneous effects, principally seascapes, are doubtless the finest things of their kind and size yet produced... The highest praise is due to the conception and the carrying out of these pictures without the necessity of a miracle being worked to make them."
2009 Early New Zealand Photographers and Their Successors: Nelson King Cherrill (URL: http://canterburyphotography.blogspot.com/2008/09/nelson-k-cherrill-christchurch.html).
2007 Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, Vol. I (New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group LLC), p. 1203.
2016 Evening on Culverden Down (URL: http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/38783/robinson-cherrill-evening-on-culverden-down-about-1870)
1872 The Photographer's Friend, Vol. II (Baltimore: Richard Walzl), p. 95.
1898 Photographic Times, Vol. XXX (New York: The Photographic Times Publishing Association), p. 107.
2015 Photography and the Art of Chance by Robin Kelsey (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press), p. 61.
2005 Pleasant Fictions: Henry Peach Robinson's Composition Photography by
David Lawrence Coleman, B.A., M.A. (URL: https://www.lib.utexas.edu/etd/d/2005/colemand35309/colemand35309.pdf).
2016 Seascape at Night (URL: http://www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk/collection/photography/royalphotographicsociety/collectionitem?id=2003-5001/2/21435).
2010 Secure the Shadow: Images from Early Photographers (URL: http://earlyphotographers.blogspot.com/2010/08/robinson-cherrill.html).
2003 Time Stands Still: Muybridge and the Instantaneous Photography Movement by Phillip Prodger (New York: Oxford University Press), p. 33.
2016 Victorian C.D.V. Carte-de-Visite by Robinson & Cherrill Tunbridge Wells Kent (URL: http://www.ebid.net/us/for-sale/victorian-c-d-v-carte-de-visite-by-robinson-cherrill-tunbridge-wells-kent-116-135637934.htm).
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