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"A Sea of Steps," Wells Cathedral, Stairs to Chapter House and Bridge to Vicar's Close

Frederick H. Evans, British, 1853 - 1943

Photograph taken in Wells Cathedral, Wells, Somerset County, England, Europe


Gelatin silver print

Image: 9 7/16 × 7 11/16 inches (23.9 × 19.5 cm) Sheet: 10 5/16 × 8 3/16 inches (26.2 × 20.8 cm) Mount: 13 3/4 × 10 9/16 inches (34.9 × 26.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
From the Collection of Dorothy Norman, 1970

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    A prolific writer with strong literary interests, Frederick Evans ran a successful London bookstore with clients like Aubrey Beardsley and George Bernard Shaw before leaving the business at age forty-seven to concentrate full-time on photography, for which he had already established a reputation. Evans said that he took up photography because of his love of beauty, and his approach to his subjects, whether great cathedrals, groves of trees, or intimate interiors, originated from a deep emotion. Profoundly dedicated to pure photography, he never altered the printing of negatives for aesthetic effects; rather, the eloquence of his images comes from his ability to capture the supremely expressive viewpoint at the most telling moment of light and shadow. In A Sea of Steps, a key image among the Museum's 195 photographs by Evans, the composition is filled with the converging cascades of ancient steps of Wells Cathedral, taken at the precise moment when the light made their worn, undulating edges appear as thin, wavering lines. Innis Howe Shoemaker, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p.233.