Roger Fenton, The Discus-thrower (discobolos), a photograph
London, England, AD 1857
A famous sculpture in an unusual setting
In this unusual photograph by Roger Fenton we see a famous Roman sculpture, the Discobolos, or Discus Thrower, acquired in 1805. In 1857 part of the Graeco-Roman Saloon was being redecorated and reorganized. The Discobolos was waiting to be installed and had been left outside the Saloon in the Assyrian Transept.
With the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery as a backdrop, this impressive sculpture proved an irresistible subject for photography. Roger Fenton had already taken several photographs of the Museum galleries and seized the opportunity to capture this fascinating image for future generations.
The photograph was reproduced as a stereoscopic view which members of the public were able to buy with copies of The Stereoscopic Magazine. When viewed at home using a stereoscope the images would appear in three-dimensions.
The Discobolos is now on display downstairs in the Wolfson Galleries (Room 84).
C. Date, 'Photographer on the roof', British Museum Society Bulle-1, 61 (Summer 1989)
C. Date and A. Hamber, 'The origins of photography at the British Museum, 1839-1860', History of Photography, 14: 4 (1990)