Henry Peach Robinson
obinson was the most prominent exponent of High Art photography.
His aesthetic was for the most part Academic and conventional. He
aimed for photographs "as good ... painting in Raphael's time". His
first and the most famous composite picture, "Fading Away" (1858)
was a popularity-seeking exercise on a fashionably morbid theme.
But there were strong links between Robinson's works and Pre-
Raphaelitism. As the Pre-Raphaelites grew in popular esteem, so
Robinson was obliged "to steal their clothes". He was in addition
strongly Ruskinian. He believed that imagination, though paramount,
must be based on observation. He lauded art as providing "thoughtful
work for earnest men".
Robinson's later move away from composite pictures suggest that he
understood the contradiction involved between the camera's essential
passivity and his own urge to compose. In his Pre-Raphaelite phase
he attempted to realise this contradiction by representing moments
of timeless significance in a "mediaeval" setting. In this he
anticipates the work of Julia Margaret Cameron, as well as that of
Rossetti's followers, Burne-Jones and the Symboilists..