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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Charles Clifford

Dates:  1819 (ca. 1800 Getty ULAN / Auer) (1821 Grove Art Online) - 1863
Born:  Great Britain, London
Died:  Spain, Madrid
Active:  Spain
English photographer active in Spain where he settled from 1852 onwards and was court photographer to Queen Isabella II. His wife, Jane, was also a talented photographer.

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Charles Clifford
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Clifford, a Welshman, made his whole photographic career in Madrid, where he started at least by 1850, calling himself the “Photografito inglés.” He primarily photographed the architecture of Spain and by 1858 had been appointed the official photographer to Queen Isabel II. In this capacity Clifford documented her journeys and the massive building projects undertaken during her reign. Clifford’s wife, Jane, photographed the holdings of the Royal Armory and other precious royal objects. Most of this work was on collodion, but early in his career Clifford made both daguerreotypes and calotypes. In the 1854 exhibition of the Photographic Society in London, Clifford submitted ten views of Spanish architecture, three of them specifically identified as calotypes. Clifford disappeared from Spain in 1854, and the most likely explanation is also an intriguing one. There exists a group of waxed-paper negatives taken in the Crimea - not of the action of war, which because of the long exposure times required would have been impossible, but rather studies of the battlefields - and these can probably be attributed to Clifford. They are particularly poignant, some showing orderly rows of men and equipment before an engagement, others depicting turmoil and disarray in the aftermath of battle. Clifford also photographed in Istanbul, most likely on his way to or from the Crimea, and in 1855 he visited Paris and began exhibiting there. Clifford died an early death, at the height of his photographic powers. 
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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Further research

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If you have a portrait of this photographer or know of the whereabouts of one we would be most grateful.
Family history 
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Visual indexes

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Internet biographies

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Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
 Go to website

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Auer, Michele & Michel 1985 Encyclopedie Internationale Des Photographes de 1839 a Nos Jours / Photographers Encylopaedia International 1839 to the present (Hermance, Editions Camera Obscura) 2 volumes [A classic reference work for biographical information on photographers.] 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Charles Clifford.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Newhall, Beaumont 1982 The History of Photography - Fifth Edition (London: Secker & Warburg) [One or more photographs by Charles Clifford are included in this classic history.] 
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