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Art Diary

Sights of Wonder: Photographs from the 1862 Royal Tour

5 June 2020

While many museums remain shuttered due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Apollo’s usual weekly pick of exhibitions will include shows at institutions that are now reopening as well as digital projects providing virtual access to art and culture.

In 1862 the photographer Francis Bedford accompanied Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, on a tour of the Middle East. It was arranged in part to distract from scandalous reports of the future Edward VII’s amorous liaisons – but it was also the first royal tour to be photographed, and over the course of four and a half months Bedford captured the majesty of ancient sites across the region. Previously planned as a physical exhibition at the Barber Institute in Birmingham, the virtual display retraces their journey from Egypt, through the Holy Land to Damascus, and on to Constantinople, with images of pyramids and mosques, desert terrain and crowded cityscapes, before concluding among the temples of Athens. View the virtual display from 12 June on the Barber Institute of Fine Arts’ website.

Preview below | View Apollo’s Art Diary here

Title page of Photographic Pictures made by Mr. Francis Bedford during the Tour in the East (1862), Francis Bedford. Photo: © Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020

The Prince of Wales and Group at the Pyramids, Giza, Egypt (1862), Francis Bedford.

The Prince of Wales and Group at the Pyramids, Giza, Egypt (1862), Francis Bedford. Photo: © Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020

Portrait of 'Abd al-Qadir, Damascus (1862), Francis Bedford.

Portrait of ‘Abd al-Qadir, Damascus (1862), Francis Bedford. Photo: © Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020

Mosque of St Sophia from Hippodrome, Istanbul (1862), Francis Bedford.

Mosque of St Sophia from Hippodrome, Istanbul (1862), Francis Bedford. Photo: © Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020

The Prince of Wales at Thebes, 18 March 1862 (1862), Jemima Blackburn.

The Prince of Wales at Thebes, 18 March 1862 (1862), Jemima Blackburn. Photo: © Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020