The photographer E.O.Hoppé established his first professional studio in London in 1907, gaining rapid recognition as a skilled and sympathetic chronicler of fashionable society. Indeed, he is best known for that earlier phase of his career when he rose to become the most famous celebrity and stage photographer of the Edwardian era. However, the capital was to be more than mere backdrop to this career. Between 1926 and 1937, the period during which he shifted from portraiture to topographical photography, Hoppé illustrated a number of books on London and his work from this period registers the variety, complexity and sometimes contradictory nature of the discourses to be engaged by a photographer intent on depicting the metropolis. These discourses are characterised, variously, by a positive response to the visual experience of the modernising metropolis and, alternatively, by an anti-modernity and nostalgia for a 'disappearing' London. Hoppé's photography therefore articulates something of the crisis experienced by a capital (and a whole society) in rapid and far-reaching processes of demographic and cultural change. Beginning with Picturesque Great Britain (1926), I go on to examine three of Hoppé's metropolitan texts: London (1932), The Image of London (1935), and A Camera on Unknown London (1936). Each registers significant alterations to the perception of the modernising metropolis and to its representation in photographs, and my subject concerns these interactions between metropolitan modernity and photography in the early decades of the twentieth century.
|Journal||The London Journal|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Nov 2010|