|Dates: ||1802 - 1892|
Born into a farming family, Smith rose from his humble beginnings through the textile trade. An inheritance from his father-in-law in 1847 freed him from a career in commerce, allowing him to pursue many interests. Known locally as “Philosopher Smith,” he was a collector of natural history and a numismatist. Skilled with a lathe, he built microscopes and other instruments. Smith took up waxed-paper photography in 1852, documenting extensively the countryside and ruined abbeys of East Anglia for a period of at least twelve years. Active in his community, he was a director of the gasworks and a member of the committee set up to bring water to Wisbech. Smith’s photographs of the river Nene were shown to Parliament as persuasive evidence of how this should be done.
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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