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Roger Fenton (1819-69)

Valley of the Shadow of Death 23 Apr 1855

Albumen print | 25.7 x 35.0 cm | RCIN 2500514

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When Fenton reached the ravine seen in this photograph, he found himself the target of enemy fire. Even so, Fenton managed to make at least two distinct views: the version seen here, and another in which far fewer cannon balls lie on the ground, indicating that he re-arranged one of the scenes. This photograph, which has become one of Fenton’s most famous compositions, demonstrates the power of the camera at war. The scene is still and almost barren, but the power of the imagination draws the viewer into the landscape and the title, with its reference to Psalm 23, suggests that we walking between the realms of life and sudden death. From the collection of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII