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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Stephen Thompson

Dates:  1831 - ?
Active:  UK

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Stephen Thompson
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

In the 1861 exhibition of the Photographic Society in London, Thompson showed mostly collodion but also four waxed-paper architectural views. That same year he displayed similar subjects in the Architectural Photographic Association exhibition, and while the processes were not specified, it seems likely that at least some of them were from paper negatives as well. After Roger Fentonís acrimonious separation from the British Museum, that institution relied on a number of photographers. Thompson was the most important of these, carrying out a number of projects for the museum in the 1860s and 1870s. In the end, however, the museum refused to make a permanent appointment for a photographer. That was not the first of Thompsonís problems. In the early 1850s he was the partner of William Wagstaff in the London studio of Wagstaff & Thompson. Wagstaff brought suit against him in 1856, trying to reclaim the 200 pounds he had paid for instruction. He had locked Thompson out of the studio and had hidden the cameras to hold for ransom, but Thompson broke in and retrieved them. The judge wisely ruled that, whereas the partnership should be dissolved, Wagstaff could not collect his tuition. Thompsonís lot improved after this incident. He received an award in the 1862 International Exhibition for his landscapes, architectural subjects, and reproductions of art. He later did contract work for the Autotype Company. 
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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