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The Valley of the Shadow of Death

A work made of salted paper print, from the album "photographic pictures of the seat of war in the crimea" (1856).
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of salted paper print, from the album "photographic pictures of the seat of war in the crimea" (1856).




Roger Fenton
English, 1819–1869

About this artwork

Prominent in photographic circles and favored by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Roger Fenton was commissioned to document the British military during the Crimean War; his pictures there represent one of the first uses of photography in wartime. He spent March through June 1855 with the troops, producing 360 wet-plate glass negatives in his horse-drawn darkroom. The laborious process and lengthy exposure times precluded photographs of battle, yet Fenton captured the psychological intensity of war in pictures such as The Valley of the Shadow of Death. A superficial sense of barren calm is belied by the numerous Russian cannonballs, which cover the ground to indicate past violence and suggest imminent future danger in the area. Fenton exhibited this and related images in London in the fall of 1855, provoking enormous public interest, and he published them in portfolio editions.


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Photography and Media


Roger Fenton


The Valley of the Shadow of Death


England (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1855


Salted paper print, from the album "Photographic Pictures of the Seat of War in the Crimea" (1856)


Printed recto, on mount, lower left, in black ink: "Deposé"; recto, on mount, lower right, in black ink: "The Valley of the Shadow of Death."; recto, on mount, along bottom edge, in black ink: "No. 218. Photographed by R. Fenton. Manchester, Published by T. Agnew & Sons, Jan'y 1st 1856. / London, P. & D. Colnaghi H[?] Paris, Moulin, 23, Rue Richer. New York, Williams H[?]"; unmarked verso


Image/paper: 27.2 × 36.4 cm (10 3/4 × 14 3/8 in.); Mount: 42.1 × 52.8 cm (16 5/8 × 20 13/16 in.)

Credit Line

Photography Gallery Fund

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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