|Dates: ||1825 - 1921|
|Born: ||Poland, Warsaw|
|Active: ||Israel & Palestine|
Elizabeth Anne Finn, née McCaul, was born in Warsaw, the daughter of an English Christian missionary to the Jews of Poland. The family returned to England in 1841 and her father was appointed professor of Hebrew at King’s College, London. This was both the right time and the right place to learn of new developments in photography. In 1846 Elizabeth married James Finn, a scholar of Hebrew and Arabic, setting out with him for Palestine, where her husband took up the post of British consul for Jerusalem. It was here, in 1849, that Finn met George Wilson Bridges, who was by then an enthusiastic calotypist. Years later, she recalled: “We had an interesting visitor in an old English clergyman named Bridges . . . he was the first to take anything like photographic views in Jerusalem. These were called ‘talbot-types,’ invented by his friend Mr. Fox Talbot, and he explained to me as much as he could about photography. I therefore wrote to my friends, and photographic apparatus was sent out to me.” Strongly devoted to the small enclave of Jews in Jerusalem, Finn set up a workshop for Jewish women artisans, but, mired in controversy over their active support of the local population, she and her husband returned to Britain in 1861. A prolific writer, Finn was also a founding member of the Palestinian Exploration Fund. None of her photographs are known to have survived.
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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