Photographing the Bayeux Tapestry with Burlington Magazine

24th April 2023

Sparked by a set of 19th century glass plate negatives, this talk will discuss the first photographic campaign to record the Bayeux Tapestry, which brought it to prominence as an iconic artwork in the British imagination. Photographing the Tapestry was an innovative process undertaken for the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A) in 1872. Special techniques and equipment including solar enlargement, photocollage and hand-painting were combined to make a 214 foot long coloured photograph representing the Tapestry at life size scale. This object played a vital role in understanding the Tapestry in Britain for decades afterwards and generated further copies in other media including the 1886 embroidered copy of the tapestry made by the Leek Embroidery Society, now in Reading Museum. This talk will place the first photography campaign of the Tapestry within current research into institutional photographic practices, cultural diplomacy through photography, and photographic replication of artworks. Ella Ravilious’s talk draws on research that will be published by The Burlington Magazine in their forthcoming May issue, which is devoted to Photography


Ella Ravilious is Curator: Architecture and Design at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and co-editor of What Photographs Do: The Making and Remaking of Museum Cultures (2022). Her book Eric Ravilious: Landscapes and Nature is due out in Autumn 2023.









Lisa Stein is a London-based writer and researcher specialising in photography, and the Assistant Reviews Editor at The Burlington Magazine. Her writing on photography and art has appeared in The Philosophy of Photography, Four by Three Magazine, Photomonitor, Photocaptionist, 1000 Words Magazine and Burlington Contemporary.