|Dates: ||? - 1878|
In 1856, the Northamptonshire Photographic Society was formed with the hope that its monthly meetings would “blend the practical and instructive with the theoretical and the descriptive.” In its first exhibition that year, one professional, Edward Monson, and two amateur photographers showed work from paper negatives. Of these two, William Law had the more extensive showing, but Oakes displayed “superior calotypes.” Thomas was the only Captain Oakes in the army or navy during this period and must have been the photographer. He fought bravely in the Kaffir War in South Africa from 1851 to 1853 and distinguished himself during the Crimean campaign in the siege of Sebastapol and the battle of Eupatoria. He almost certainly would not have been present during the exhibition, but a friend or family member might have submitted his work. If this is the correct Captain Oakes, he was one of the finest cavalry officers in the British Army, rising eventually to the rank of major general and serving as the inspecting officer of the Yeomanry Calvary. He retired to Farnham, Surrey, and was remembered in his obituary in the Annual Register “for his liberal mind and many amiable qualities.” At least one waxed-paper negative produced by Oakes survives, a view of Brigstock Church in Northamptonshire.
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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