Henry Taunt wearing a medal of the Ancient Order of Foresters
14 May 1842|
St Ebbe's, Oxford, England
4 November 1922|
Cowley Road, Oxford
|Awards||Ancient Order of Foresters|
At the age of 14, Taunt joined Edward Bracher as a member of staff in 1856 at his photographic premises based at 26 High Street, Oxford. In 1868 he set up his own photographic business in Oxford. Moving from his Broad Street studio, Taunt traded from 1894–95 at 41 High Street, Oxford and later moved to 34 High Street; remaining here from 1895 until 1906. After this time he moved all his work to his home on Cowley Road.
In 1893 Henry Taunt was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. This was a substantial honour in recognition of the notable feat of cartography and accuracy of measurements that featured in the New Map of the Thames.
Henry Taunt's black-and-white photographs are mainly views of Oxford, Oxfordshire (and surrounding counties) and the River Thames. He produced the first pocket guide to the River Thames to be illustrated with photographs. In the 1860s, it covered the upper Thames, but it expanded its range over several editions. The wet collodion process, invented by Frederick Scott Archer, was the best means to capture negative images on glass until the end of the 1870s, by which time many of Taunt’s pictures for his Illustrated Map of the Thames had been taken. He would row his skiff to a location, set up his dark tent, set up his camera and tripod, sensitise and coat the glass plate, immediately make the two- or three-second exposures, develop and fix the images, wash them in river water, perhaps dry them in the sun and row back to his lodgings or set up camp with his assistants. At the beginning of the 1860s this was an notable feat of skill. Henry Taunt was at the forefront of Victorian location photographic technology.
Taunt's photographs are reproduced in many books (e.g., see below) and form a useful historical record of social history and architecture. Major collections of his work are held by English Heritage: 14,000 images, Oxfordshire County Council: Oxfordshire Studies and the River and Rowing Museum at Henley-on-Thames.
Sources and further reading
- Brown, Bryan, ed. (1973). The England of Henry Taunt: Victorian photographer. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7100-7542-0.
- Diprose, Graham; Robins, Jeff. The River Thames Revisited: In the Footsteps of Henry Taunt. London: Frances Lincoln Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7112-2765-1.
- Graham, Malcolm (1973). Henry Taunt of Oxford: A Victorian Photographer. Headington: Oxford Illustrated Press. ISBN 0-902280-14-7.
- Graham, Malcolm; Waters, Laurence (2006). Oxford Then and Now: From the Henry Taunt Collection. In Old Photographs. Stroud: Alan Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-4224-X.
- Read, Susan, ed. (1989). Thames of Henry Taunt. Stroud: Alan Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-86299-616-3.
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