About this artwork

Roger Fenton was strongly influenced by Sir Walter Scott in the choice of his subject matter in Scotland. Melrose Abbey was made famous by Scott's 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel' although there is a certain irony in the popular photography of the subject. The verse recommends viewing the ruin by pale moonlight whereas pictures of it were normally taken in bright sunlight as it is quite obvious from this photograph.

Roger Fenton

Roger Fenton

Roger Fenton was one of the finest photographers of his day working with landscape and architecture. Having been impressed by the work of 'the first real photographic organisation', the Société Héliographique in France, he became one of the founders of the Photographic Society of London in 1853. In 1854 he was commissioned to travel to the Crimea and photograph every aspect of a war which was beginning to cause public discontent back home. In 1862 he gave up photography to start work as a solicitor. His camera and over 1,000 negatives were sold in November that year.