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Hugh Welch Diamond

(1808—1886) photographer and asylum superintendent


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(1808–86), English doctor and amateur photographer. He studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons and St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, and first practised in Soho, where he became interested in mental illness. From 1848 to 1858, after a period at London's Bethlem Hospital (‘Bedlam’), he headed the women's section of the Surrey County Asylum. Subsequently he opened a private clinic for women at Twickenham. Diamond took up photography early in his career, acquired extensive knowledge of the calotype and other processes, and with Frederick Scott Archer experimented with collodion. From 1851 he began to photograph his female patients in simple poses against a plain background, and can thus be claimed to have founded the photography of mental illness. He showed the portraits at exhibitions of the photographic Society of London (later Royal Photographic Society) and was a key figure in amateur photography in the 1850s. He introduced various technical improvements and published articles in several journals. In 1853 he became secretary of the Photographic Society, and between 1859 and 1864 edited the Photographic Journal. He was also active as a landscape photographer and was interested in archaeology.

From The Oxford Companion to the Photograph in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Photography and Photographs.


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