ejlander moved to London and stayed at Joseph Hogarth’s house at 5 Haymarket.
He stayed there until he found suitable accommodation and towards the end of the year he moved to 129 Malden Road, London. He soon erected a studio behind number 7 St. George’s Terrace, Malden Road, which was close to his new home.

The new studio behind number 7 St. George’s Terrace, Malden Road. From a drawing in 'The British Journal of Photography", 2nd March, 1863.
The new studio was called the glass room and was built around a wood and iron framework. It produced the kind of diffused lighting that Rejlander had been looking for.


A plan view of the glass room.

Many of his better known works were produced in London and famous people such as Alfred Lord Tennyson and Lewis Carroll came for a sitting.

Oscar married Mary Bull at Pancras Register Office, London, on September 30 1862, he was 48 and she was 24. She had appeared on many of his photographs that were taken in Wolverhampton from 1853 onwards, so they had known each other for some time.

He read a paper at a meeting of the South London Photographic Society on 12th February, 1863. In the paper entitled "An Apology For Art Photography" he described how he became interested in photography and his first lessons in London:

"In 1852 I was in Rome, and saw photographs of the Apollo Belvidere, the Laocoon, the Torso, Gibson's Venus, etc., etc., which I bought and studied; and I was delighted to have a fair chance of measuring the relative proportions of the antique on the flat and true copies of the originals. That was my first acquaintance with the fair results of photography. I merely recollected having seen some reddish landscape photographs the year before at Ackermann's, in Regent Street, but these made no impression on me. What I saw in the Exhibitions of 1851 had proved as evanescent as looking at myself in a glass; " out of sight omit of mind." They were all Daguerreotypes. It awakened in me at the moment nothing but curiosity. But in Rome I was fairly taken with the capabilities of the art, so I made up my mind to study photography as soon as I returned to England.

My view at this period, to the best of my recollection, did not extend farther than showing me the usefulness of photography in enabling me to take children's portraits, in aid of painting, and for studies for foregrounds in landscapes.

In 1853, having inquired in London for a good teacher, I was directed to Henneman. We agreed for so much for three or five lessons; but, as I was in a hurry to get back to the country, I took all the lessons during one afternoon; three hours in the calotype and waxed-paper process, and half-an-hour sufficed for the collodion process!! He spoke, I wrote; but I was too clever. It would have saved me a year or more of trouble and expense had I attended carefully to the rudiments of the art for a month."

He went on to describe some of his early attempts:

"I cannot forbear mentioning that some of the earliest portraits that I took, and which I had sensitised with ammonia-nitrate, are as vigorous now as they were then, although they had but three changes of water; ten minutes or a quarter-of-an-hour in each dish after hypo., as my instructor had told me; while others, and later, according to the usual process, have proved as treacherous as a bad memory. At length Maxwell Lyte let his light in on my manipulations by the publication of the alkaline gold-toning process. At that time I was nearly giving up photography. I felt as if I were only writing in sand.

My first attempt at "double printing," as some call it, was exhibited in London in 1855. It was named in the catalogue Groupe Printed from Three Negatives. That plan I hit upon through sheer vexation, because I could not get a gentleman's figure in focus, though he was close behind a sofa on which two ladies were seated. Up to this time I considered postures on the principle of bas reliefs; it is as few foreshortenings as possible; but now I felt freer."

He later gave his feelings on the relationship between photography and painting:

"I believe photography will make painters better artists and more careful draughtsmen. You may test their figures by photography. In Titian's Venus and Adonis, Venus has her head turned in a manner that no female could turn it and at the same time shows so much of her back. Her right leg also is too long. I have proved the correctness of this opinion by photography with variously shaped female models. In Peace and War, by Reubens, the back of the female with the basket is painted from a male, as proved by the same test.

The real good old painters, such as Raffaelle, Leonardo da Vinci, Luini, Velasquez, Teniers, Titian; you often find reflected in photography in apparent finish and effect.

There are many ways in which photography can prove useful to artists, although few of them are aware of it. Here is one. After they have made their sketch, or uncoloured cartoon, they may have a photograph taken from it; and then on the prepared albumen paper they may play with colours as much as they like, until they arrive at what they wish for their painting; for a wet brush removes any colour objected to, just as if it had never been there, yet the outline underneath remains the same."

Mary Bull in about 1857

Rejlander was honoured by leading members of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1866 and a dinner was held in his honour. This was on the occasion of the opening of the Royal Photographic Society of Scotland’s exhibition, which featured some of Rejlander’s work.

In March 1869 Oscar opened a new studio at 1 Albert Mansions, Victoria Street, London. The studio was on the top two floors, the lower floor being occupied by Mr. Arthur Sullivan who is remembered as one half of the famous Gilbert and Sullivan opera writing team. He invited his friends of the Solar Club to a house-warming and some of the most famous photographers of the time were present. The new premises were in an expensive part of London and it’s difficult to imagine how Rejlander could afford to move there.

In 1871 Charles Darwin asked Rejlander to produce the photographs for his new book "On the Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals". The photographs illustrated various expressions and emotions and Rejlander himself posed for five of them. Darwin’s book was not very successful but one of the photographs called "Mental Distress" showing a distressed child, was exhibited and Rejlander received orders for 60,000 prints and 250,000 cartes-de-visite.

After the new studio opened, Oscar and Mary moved from Malden Road to a small modest semi-detached house in Willington Road, Stockwell, possibly because of the high cost of the new studio. Rejlander continued his involvement in the volunteer movement as a member of the 38th Middlesex Regiment and continued to be an expert marksman. From about 1871 his health started to deteriorate. It was thought that he was suffering from Bright’s Disease but it was possibly diabetes. By 1874 he had lost a lot of weight and became very ill but still managed to do some work. As the year progressed he became too ill to work and was house-bound. In an attempt to cheer the dying man, Mary took him on a final visit to the seaside, but this didn’t end as she had hoped. On their last visit to the sea they unfortunately witnessed the death of a child who drowned.

Oscar wanted to die as a volunteer and be buried as one. He died on 18th January 1875. His final months of inactivity had left the Rejlanders in debt because he was unable to work and the bills kept coming in. This left Mary on hard times and so she disposed of his paintings and art objects to make ends meet. She finally moved to a little house near to her old home in Tottenham. A sad end to such an interesting life.

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