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George Davison

(1855—1930) photographer, political activist, and patron of the arts


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(1854–1930), British amateur photographer who joined the new Camera Club of London in 1885 and the Photographic Society in 1886. In 1889 he became a director of the Eastman Photographic Materials Company and gave up his civil service job, becoming managing director of Kodak Ltd. in 1900. Davison's upward mobility was tempered by old loyalties: his first exhibited photographs were of Lowestoft harbour, a tribute to his late father, a shipyard carpenter, and his first published letter in the photographic press proposed educational magic-lantern shows for workers. He later espoused anarchism, and his visibility on socialist marches led to his 1913 resignation from the Kodak board. Davison advocated equally progressive photography, most notably in his 1889 pinhole photograph An Old Farmstead (exhibited 1890), and his 1890 paper ‘Impressionism in Photography’, which updated P. H. Emerson's naturalistic photography in the optical and philosophical idiom of modern French painting. Davison was a founding member of the Linked Ring, and developed a liberal artistic and political community at his houses in North Wales and on the French Riviera, where he died.

From The Oxford Companion to the Photograph in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Photography and Photographs.


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