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Exhibition to feature rare photographs by Roger Fenton at National Army Museum

The National Army Museum on the north bank of the Thames at Chelsea is to stage an exhibition with an unusual theme. Starting on 9th February, Wives and Sweethearts promises to be a powerful experience for visitors with exhibits ranging from rare photographs including those by Roger Fenton (1819-1869) and a host personal effects of soldiers and their partners. Fenton was one of the first war photographers and founder of what was to become the Royal Photographic Society. Fenton's pioneering work wasn't duly recognised during his lifetime but his work documenting the Crimean war, especially, has since become acknowledged by historians.


Image 4607: Photograph: Cantiniere.

Photograph by Roger Fenton (1819-1869).
From photograph album of 52 photographs associated with the Crimean War (1854-1856).

Usually the wives of non-commissioned officers, Cantinières (women supplying food and drink to soldiers), played an important role in the support of French regiments, running canteens and providing additional rations such as brandy to the soldiers. 


Image 4593: Photograph: Henry Duberly Esq, Paymaster 8th (The King’s Royal Irish) Light Dragoons (Hussars) and Mrs Duberly mounted on a horse.

Photograph by Roger Fenton (1819-1869).
From photograph album of 52 photographs associated with the Crimean War (1854-1856).

Captain Henry Duberly, paymaster of the 8th Hussars, and his vivacious wife, Fanny. Of her conduct Lieutenant-Colonel William Forrest, 4th Dragoon Guards, wrote 'They say she is not actually a "bad one" but that she behaves in the most extraordinary way, riding and walking about with anybody, giving men every encouragement to flirt with her, but when the gentleman becomes rather too ardent in his admiration, she suddenly says "why you must forget that I am a married woman. I shall tell my husband of this, & we shall have such a laugh." They say that she has played this trick to several.'

Press Release

Fenton Photographs captures Wives and Sweethearts

Rare Roger Fenton photographs are at the heart of an upcoming Wives and Sweethearts exhibition which launches on 9 February 2011 at the National Army Museum.  

The exhibition celebrates love at the front-line with remarkable images by Roger Fenton, which document the powerful presence of 'Women of the Regiment' during the Crimean War.  

Spanning over 200 years the Museum’s newest exhibition will explore all aspects of soldiers’ relationships from the joy of courtships, weddings and births to separation and tragic deaths.
Exhibited for the first time, Wives and Sweethearts presents the treasured personal items of soldiers and their sweethearts from letters of engagement and poignant photographs to dazzling diamond love tokens. 

Drawing on the Museum’s collections visitors can discover the love, fears, doubts and joys of generations of soldiers and the profound effect of Army life on the personal relationships of soldiers and their partners and families from the Napoleonic period to the present day. 
Frances Parton, Curator of Wives and Sweethearts exhibition, said: “As curator, it has been a challenge as much as a joy to select the items for the exhibition. The Museum has such a wealth of social history material on the subject of soldiers and their love lives that I was spoilt for choice. These items provide us with a touching insight into the lives of others and remind us of the people behind the conflicts.”

The exhibition highlights the fascinating and changing roles of soldiers’ partners from nineteenth-century ‘Women of the Regiment’ who worked as cooks and laundresses to modern Army families, where both partners may in the Armed Forces.
From the wives of Wellington’s armies to those currently missing a partner in Afghanistan, the Wives and Sweethearts exhibitions brings alive for today’s visitors the personal aspects of war and its continued relevance.

Key exhibition items from Napoleonic, Crimean, Boer, First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, the Falklands War and the Gulf War:


·       Roger Fenton photographs of ‘Women of the Regiment’ during the Crimean War
·       Love token sent to his wife from an soldier at Waterloo
·       A Boer War letter sent with a pressed flower
·       Embroidered postcards from the First World War
·       Diamond-encrusted sweetheart brooch from the Second World War
·       Letters and photographs from the Falklands, Korean, and Gulf Wars
·       Oral histories from current soldier’s wives and sweethearts



Visitor Information
Address: National Army Museum,
Royal Hospital Road,
London, SW3 4HT
Start date: 9 February 2011
End date: 30 July 2011
Admission: Free
Opening hours: Daily from 10.00am until 5.30pm
Visitor enquiries: 020 7730 0717


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