Majesty, c. 1890 Mural-sized carbon print, mounted on linen, titled and credited 'Gambier Bolton F.R.G. S.' in the negative, in the original frame. 31 1/2 x 41 1/2in
The F.R.G.S. after his name in the negative, identifies Bolton as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He was also a member of the Zoological Society and the Royal Photographic Society. Gambier Bolton began as an amateur photographer of animals, and gained the recognition as the first celebrated animal photographer for his candid images of wild animals in captivity and in nature. His animal photographs were sold by the publishers Erdmann & Schanz in London (Jacobson, Etude d'Après, 19th Century Photographs in Relation to Art, p. 171).
The writer, C.J. Cornich, commented that he saw the celebrated British photographer of wild animals at the London Zoo, sitting there by the hour, with his camera beside him, ready to photograph each new and characteristic attitude. 'To watch Mr. G. Bolton is to learn how to see the zoo from another point of view than that common to ordinary or even scientific visitors. He is concerned, not with the habits, but with the form, appearance, and attitudes of animals.' ('How to See The Zoo,' The Cornhill Magazine, 1896, p. 375). In addition to his images of animals at the London Zoo, he traveled to many other zoos around the world in the U.S., Europe, Canada, Japan, China, Africa, and Burma. His photographs were often illustrated in popular publications and books of the day, like The Idler, A Book of Beasts and Birds, The Animal Picture Book, and The Larger Cats.
W. Watson & Sons constructed a camera based on Bolton's specifications. The 'Gambier Bolton Camera' was designed to serve as a combination camera for the use of long distance photography or as a readily available hand camera.
As rendered here, in an oversized format and presented in its original frame, Majesty has magnificent presence and visual impact. Bolton's intimate close up view of Majesty is by far the most impressive and popular of all his lion images, and was featured when exhibited in the British Section of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.
As of this writing, it is believed that only one other print of this image, in this size, has been offered at auction, in 2010.
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