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HomeContents > People > Photographers > William Lyndon Smith

Other: Lyndon Smith 
Dates:  1837 - 1865
Active:  Great Britain / Germany
A collection of his paper prints, and those of his friend and fellow photographer James Oxley, are held by Leeds City Art Gallery, England.

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Approved biography for William Lyndon Smith
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Smith went by his middle name of Lyndon, probably to avoid confusion with his father, William W. Smith, his partner in a Leeds woolen firm. At the age of eighteen he began contributing to the photographic journals, already showing a mastery of the waxed-paper process. In 1855 he published his thoughts, in case “there are any photographers who still practise the wax-paper process, notwithstanding the current mania for tents and collodion,” explaining how he practiced during a seven-month residence in France. It is not known what processes he used for his contributions to the 1857 Birmingham Photographic Society exhibition, but the numerous views of Heidelberg Castle and the Black Forest would have been more easily made with paper negatives. However, by the time of the 1857 Photographic Society exhibition in London, he, too, had succumbed to the lure of collodion. From that point forward, Smith was a regular contributor to the photographic exhibitions and, according to his obituary in Photographic News, “an amateur of much skill and artistic feeling.” He received the first medal given by the Photographic Society of Scotland, for his Rising Mist, described in the British Journal of Photography’s obituary for him as a “striking advance in originality of conception on anything previously attempted.” In January 1865 Smith gallantly went to the rescue of a young couple who had fallen through the ice while skating. He saved one of them but perished in the attempt. The photographic world remembered, in the last-mentioned obituary, his contributions to photographic science: “His style was clear and forcible, and the subjects which he treated were imbued with much interest.” 
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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