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Friday 24 March – Wednesday 21 June 2017
Step into the world of Lady Florence Katherine Bridgeman, 5th Countess of Harewood. SNAPSHOT explores the life and works of this enthusiastic, amateur photographer with her enchanting images of Victorian life.
The photography you can see in this exhibition has never been shown to the public before. Hundreds of images have been expertly digitised 100 years after they were originally captured allowing you to explore this fascinating era of history.
Florence was born in 1859, the youngest daughter of Orlando Bridgeman, 3rd Earl of Bradford. At aged 22 she married Henry, Viscount Lascelles, eventually becoming the 5th Countess of Harewood in 1892 after the death of Henry’s father. Florence’s eldest son, also Henry Lascelles, later married Princess Mary in 1922 taking Harewood into the royal family.
Florence lived through a golden era for the British aristocracy. Britain was economically and politically stable, and like other women of her social status, Florence’s life had many pleasures; frequent entertaining, visits to family and friends, overseas travel and sailing with Henry on the family yacht “The Dolores” were all part of her busy social world.
Unlike many of her peers however, Florence also had an enthusiasm for a relatively new art form, photography. She captured natural images of people from the period in total contrast to the posed, stoic portraits of the earlier Victoria era.
Roger Fenton was one of the first pioneering photographer of the age; his early equipment included a complicated plate camera. Technology such as this, enabling people to preserve moments in time, was truly ground breaking. Never before could real life be captured and shared showing the reality the age.
Fenton came to Harewood in 1859 and photographed the family, Terrace and gardens so we know that in her early life, Florence will have seen these images.
Photographic technology developed quickly and by 1888, the first Kodak camera came onto the market “You press the button – we do the rest! “. Photography was now accessible and with relative ease images could be captured. Gone were the long poses, wet plates and explosive chemicals; in came a truly democratic way of capturing a picture. It didn’t matter if you were a Countess or an office worker; you used the same Kodak Box Brownie to take a photograph.