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Charles Thurston Thompson (1816–68)

Charles Thurston Thompson was the son of the respected engraver John Thompson (1785–1866) and brother-in-law of Henry Cole (1808–82). Through his connection with Cole, Thompson assisted in various aspects of the 1851 Great Exhibition and established a photographic studio at the South Kensington Museum. As a result of the latter, much of Thompson’s career was spent as the official photographer of works of art at the South Kensington Museum, later Victoria & Albert Museum. It is for this that he is best known.

Thompson’s photographs of works of art appeared in over 20 publications, including catalogues of the South Kensington Museum. He photographed the drawings attributed to Raphael and his school in the Royal Collection for Prince Albert as part of the Raphael Collection project and in 1858 he photographed the Raphael cartoons at Hampton Court (now at the Victoria & Albert Museum). Towards the end of his life he was elected a council member of the Photographic Society of London. A prolific photographer, over 10,000 negatives of works of art were recorded upon his death.