The Gibsons: Master Photographers of Victorian Cornwall


Book details
96 pages /  265 x 230mm
mono illustrations
ISBN: 978-1-911408-44-4


Publication January 2019
Orders will be fulfilled on publication

The Gibsons: Master Photographers of Victorian Cornwall
John Gibson

In June 2016, Penlee House Gallery & Museum took possession of an outstanding photographic collection by Gibson & Sons. It comprises 1266 photographic prints, 108 individual postcards with many additional duplicates, and 259 negative glass plates. The vast majority of the photographs date from 1880-1900s and are a treasure trove of what life was like in this period in West Cornwall. The Gibsons were not content to be just studio photographers but were photographic chroniclers of outdoor life on land and sea, of important social events and of the Cornish landscape with its mining and ancient archaeological heritage.

This book explores the Gibsons’ legacy, the work of a family of artist photographers, notably the founder of Gibson, John Gibson (1827 – 1920) and his son Alexander Gibson (1857 – 1944). The Gibsons are among the pioneers of British photography.  The book not only includes a representative sample of their work in West Penwith and beyond but also adds an illuminating commentary to many of the photographs.

John Edwards has been a volunteer at Penlee House & Art Gallery for the last six years, specialising in the digitisation of Penlee’s photographic collections. He is also a member of Penlee Photographic Research Group. As well as Penlee’s exhibition ‘Luminaries: Victorian Photographers in West Cornwall’ which this book accompanies, he has assisted with the curatorship of the exhibitions ‘An Enchanted Landscape – Then and Now: Photographic Excursions through West Penwith’ (2015), and ‘The Gibson Dynasty’ (2017). A former secondary school teacher, he is enjoying his new life in West Cornwall with his wife, Rose, who is returning to her roots.