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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Claudius Galen Wheelhouse

Other: C.G. Wheelhouse 
Other: Dr. Claudius Galen Wheelhouse 
Dates:  1826 - 1909
Active:  Egypt / Greece / Spain / Israel and Palestine
Wheelhouse was working as an attendant doctor on a cruise ship around the Mediterranean, when he first practiced photography, using the calotype negative, in 1848. One of the first travel albums with annotations. A group of his calotypes was published as "Photographic Sketches from the Shores of the Mediterranean" (1858-1859).

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Approved biography for Claudius Galen Wheelhouse
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Wheelhouse was born in Yorkshire, began working at Christ’s Hospital in London at ten, and was apprenticed to a doctor in Newark at sixteen. He finished his medical training in 1849, and his first practice was an unusually interesting one as the medical officer aboard a private yacht touring the Mediterranean. It is not known when Wheelhouse had first taken up photography, but this sojourn offered ample leisure time, good production facilities, and fascinating subjects. He later explained in a note, now in the National Media Museum, Bradford, that “the photographs were taken by what was then called the Talbot-type process . . . they were taken on simple paper . . . and, when completed were made as transparent as possible by being saturated with white wax, with the aid of a warm flat iron and blotting paper, by which means they were also made tough and durable.” Wheelhouse took calotype negatives in Spain, Greece, Egypt, and the Holy Land, including masterful ones of the Parthenon and of the temple at Karnak. The only exhibition that Wheelhouse is known to have participated in was at the Leeds Photographic Society in 1857. He appears to have given up photography after this tour in favor of his medical practice. Dr. Wheelhouse established hospitals in Leeds, where he was a prominent philanthropist, and eventually became president of the British Medical Association. Although durable in handling, Wheelhouse’s negatives and many of his prints were destroyed in a fire in 1879. 
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. 
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