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HomeContents > People > Photographers > B.L. Spackman

Other: Benjamin L. Spackman 
Other: Corporal B.L. Spackman 
Other: Sergeant Benjamin L. Spackman 
Dates:  1824, 5 October - 1879, 5 September
Born:  England, Gloucestershire, Cheltenham
Died:  Ireland, Dublin
Active:  Turkey
Corporals J. McCartney and B. L. Spackman were trained in photography at the South Kensington Museum he accompanied Charles Thomas Newton to record the archaeological excavations (1857-1859) at the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (Bodrum, now in present-day Turkey).
Charles Thomas Newton & R. Popplewell Pullan, 1863, A History of Discoveries at Halicarnassus, Cnidus and Branchidae, (London: Day & Son) contains the lithographs copies of which are at the Getty. The original photographs taken by Corporal B. Spackman are at the Classical Art Research Centre and The Beazley Archive, University of Oxford.

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for B.L. Spackman
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Spackman, a sergeant in the Royal Engineers, benefited from a peculiar arrangement between the military and the museum world. Thurston Thompson had been hired as the official photographer for the South Kensington Museum, now the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. His appointment grew out of the 1851 Great Exhibition, where the sappers of the Royal Engineers had been involved in the construction and documentation of the Crystal Palace. A detachment was posted to act as firemen for the new museum, where courses of instruction were set up in 1856 to keep them from idleness. One of the courses was in photography, and Spackman excelled. As a corporal he began producing waxed-paper negatives of the construction site. In 1856 and 1857 Spackman was posted to accompany Charles Newton in his excavations at Halicarnassus on the coast of what is now Turkey. In 1862 at the London International Exhibition, Spackman displayed his photographs of the progress of the building and also of the gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society. For nearly two decades Spackman remained a royal engineer, while acting primarily as a photographer for the museum. The sappers’ quarters were behind the north cloister of the museum. 
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
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