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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Robert Henry Cheney

Other: Robert Cheney 
Other: Robert H. Cheney 
Dates:  1800 - 1866
Active:  UK
Early English photographer.

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Robert Henry Cheney
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

The eldest son of a Shropshire military family whose fortune was built on coal and iron, Cheney had every opportunity and encouragement to develop his artistic tastes. While his youngest brother carried on the family’s military tradition, the middle brother, Edward, became the best-known member of the family, a literary figure who built a significant and unusual collection of art while residing in Venice. In the 1820s Robert (often known as Henry) and Edward were living in Rome, along with their mother and their sister Harriet. All were watercolorists and all were interested in art. About 1830 Cheney returned to Badger Hall, the family home in Shropshire, to run the estate, becoming justice of the peace and sheriff. Cheney first showed an interest in photography in 1845, when he approached Talbot’s printer offering to subscribe to Sun Pictures in Scotland if a copy of The Pencil of Nature could be located for him. Just when interest turned to active participation is unknown, but about 1850 Cheney took up amateur photography, although he never exhibited or openly participated in photographic circles. He was a prolific and highly accomplished photographer nonetheless. His known works are almost exclusively architectural, concentrating on grand country houses but also including more unusual subject matter such as seascapes and the British Museum under construction. His sister Frederica’s second son, Alfred Capel Cure, was to figure significantly in Cheney’s photographic life. Born in 1826, Cure took up photography at about the same time as his uncle; one may have taught the other, or, more likely, they learned the art together. Many of the albums that survive consist of albumen prints made by Cure from Cheney’s paper negatives, apparently mostly printed in the late 1850s, and as a result of their close collaboration, it is sometimes difficult to attribute authorship to specific images within the albums. 
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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