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Nelson's Column under construction

Photographer: William Henry Fox Talbot (1800 - 77)

'Nelson’s Column under construction, Trafalgar Square, London, April 1844'

While Lacock formed a convenient base for much of Talbot’s photography, he also travelled and photographed extensively in England and Scotland. His view of Trafalgar Square, with the base of Nelson’s Column still shrouded in scaffolding, can be dated from information contained in the mass of posters which plaster the fencing, in defiance of the notice forbidding them. In the background stand the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields and Morley’s Hotel, the latter on the site of the present-day South Africa House.

Salted paper print from a calotype negative

Nelson's Column

Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square was designed by William Railton and built between 1840 and 1844 to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson's death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. 

The statue of Nelson stands on top of a 46-metre granite column. The statue faces south looking towards the Admiralty and Portsmouth where Nelson's flagship HMS Victory can still be seen today. 

Talbot's Notebooks

Talbot was an active mathematician, experimental scientist, Assyriologist, classicist and land-owner whose work encapsulates intriguing tensions between the past and the future in 19th-century science and society. 

His notebooks, now in the British Library, are the subject of a post-graduate research project. Find out more

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