Birmingham City Council

Francis Bedford Collection

Francis Bedford - 'Tour in the East' display 2011 - Centenary Square, Birmingham

Francis Bedford (English 1816 - 1894) was the son of the prominent architect Francis Octavius Bedford, an influential figure in the Greek Revivalist movement of the early 19th century. He began his career as a draughtsman and lithographer and illustrated a series of books on architecture. The types of composition used in his drawings and lithographs became models for the photographs he was to make in later life.

Bedford took up photography in the early 1850s. He became well-known as one of the best English landscape photographers of the wet-plate period, his background in commercial art providing invaluable insights into the marketing of images and the tastes of the public. Bedford worked extensively in the south-west of England, the West Midlands and in Wales.

His work was highly acclaimed during his lifetime. More recently, the photo-historian, Graham Ovendon, has suggested that ‘Bedford’s photographs illustrate what is perhaps one of the most important qualities in Pre-Raphaelite art, the harmonious existence of the natural and the human world.

Between 1843 and 1849 Bedford frequently exhibited at the Royal Academy. In the 1850s he produced numerous publications featuring his work including two Photographic Albums, 1855-1856; The Treasury of Ornamental Art, 1858; and The Sunbeam, 1859. By 1861 he had been elected Vice-President of the London Photographic Society.


2700 glass negatives and 2049 prints, mostly architectural and topographical views of Great Britain c1870-1880. Many of these were taken for the Archaeological Section of the Birmingham and Midland Institute and can be cross-referenced with their catalogue. Also some 500 half-plate glass negatives of architectural and historical subjects.

Card index available.


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