The V&A and RIBA display Gargoyles and Shadows: Gothic Architecture and 19th Century Photography will look at the relationship between photography and architectural practice. It will feature a range of photographs dating from the 1850s to circa. 1915 by the leading British, French and Italian photographers of the day. The photographs are all of Gothic or Gothic revival buildings, in the UK and Europe. Alongside them will be a selection of drawings, sketch books, watercolours and prints.
The display addresses the multi-faceted relationship between architecture and photography. It shows how photography facilitated the re-discovery of an idealised past, as seen in the popularity of Picturesque views and Gothic Revival architecture. It also looks at the role played by photography in documenting architectural heritage, by John Ruskin amongst others, and in securing a record for buildings facing demolition. Photographs were also a significant source of inspiration to architects, not least in the Gothic Revival where architects like Pugin drew upon Gothic design and its perceived spirituality and nationalism in the designing of buildings such as the Palace of Westminster.