The firm he founded with sons Heinrich and Wilhelm in 1847 perfected the life of the itinerant photographer: typically travelling from one lucrative city location to another, occasionally stopping in the country to photograph estates and castles by invitation.
It continued to produce daguerreotypes and stereo daguerreotypes well into the 1860s when the process had been replaced elsewhere by wet plate collodion photography.
A portfolio of 10 images of the interiors of Bavarian and Russian palaces, c.1860, each stamped Stereoscop von T Schneider und Sohne, emerged on April 29 at Chiswick Auctions (25% buyer’s premium) – as previewed in ATG No 2439.
At the height of their commercial success, during a trip to Russia in 1861, the Schneider brothers were treated as visiting dignitaries in Moscow and St Petersburg and given unparalleled access to the Hermitage, the Kremlin and members of the royal family.
Single stereoscopic daguerreotypes by the firm appear occasionally in salerooms and can bring around £2000 each. However, Chiswick believed it was the first time a group of this type had been offered on the open market complete with a contemporary maker’s box and stereo viewer. Estimated at £15,000-25,000 in this Fine Photographica auction, it sold at £21,000.
While the mainstay of the business of Thomas Richard Williams (1824-71) was stereoscopic daguerreotype portraits, he began to develop an artistic vision of what photography could and would become.
One of the first photographers to shoot still-lifes in the 17th century Dutch painting tradition, among his so-called ‘First Series’ of artistic compositions c.1851- 55 was The Enraged Cockatoo or A Chinese Ball in Danger.
The scene (there are two versions) used a stuffed bird and a range of Oriental objects, including a Cantonese ivory puzzle ball hanging from a spear, to create a curious narrative. Through the magic of stereo imaging, we are able to share the reflection of the bird in a mirror.
To the reverse of the plate offered at Chiswick was the label Mr TR Williams, Photographic Artist, St George’s Road, Lambeth and another for the Regent Street optician Carpenter & Westley.
It was hammered at £4800 (estimate £3000-4000) to a buyer on thesaleroom.com.
Sands of time
Another of Williams’ well-known First Series compositions is the memento mori Mortality or The Sands of Time. A copy has an estimate of £2000-3000 at Flints’ sale of Fine Photographica & Instruments of Science in Thatcham on May 21.