Points of View: 19th-Century Photos at the British Library

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Don Juan Carlos, Duke of Montizon, The hippopotamus at the Zoological Gardens, Regent’s Park, London, 1852

This happy hippo is just one of the photos on display in the British Library‘s new exhibition, Points of View: Capturing the 19th Century in Photographs.

The show documents the development of photography, from the camera obscura, to work by photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot, and the rise of holiday photos and celebrity snaps.

If you thought the paparazzi were a modern phenomenon, think again! Even Charles Dickens complained about being followed by photographers. You can see pictures of Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Queen Victoria and many other well-known figures.

Other highlights include fascinating portraits of everyday life in Victorian Britain, some of the first photos of overseas countries and their inhabitants, and examples of the Victorian trend for spirit photography.

I took a tour with the exhibition’s curator, John Falconer, who brought the show to life perfectly. He’ll be conducting several free gallery talks – try and catch one if you can.

Points of View is at the British Library from 30 October to 7 March. Entry is free.