Abraham is perhaps the name most famously associated with Victorian Lake District Photography. Several generations of the Abraham family were photographers with George Perry Ashley Abraham the first to enter the industry. Born in 1844, he established a studio business based on the corner of Lake Road, Keswick, after an apprenticeship with Alfred Pettitt. His sons, however, eclipsed his reputation with their dramatic rock climbing photography. George Dixon Abraham (1870-1965) and Ashley Perry Abraham (1876-1951) grew up with the development of rock climbing as a popular sport for young men.
They were two of the first to venture onto the crags with photographic equipment. Taking a Victorian camera onto the crags was a very different prospect to ordinary landscape photography. In dangerous and difficult conditions, laden with heavy equipment (often weighing over 20lbs), the Brothers would often be perched on a rocky outcrop or ledge, perilously close to disaster, in pursuit of a dramatic landscape shot or to capture a climber in action. The fascination for climbing led to a demand for increasingly dramatic images that had never been seen before. Associates of such climbing pioneers as Owen Glynne Jones, they both became good climbers and captured the exciting early years of the sport. Significantly,Glynne Jones was writing his classic work “Rock Climbing in the English Lake District” and asked the Brothers to supply images.
The Brothers climbed all terrains in all weathers to produce some of the most exciting photographs of the period. At a time of new dramatic sports, new photographic techniques, and the development of the motor car, the Brothers were living in a fascinating world of change. They famously drove up old passes and rough tracks in their quest for climbing and photography.
Popularly known as the “Keswick Brothers“, Ashley went on to be the first president of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club of the English Lake District in 1907. Between them, they wrote many books about the Lake District, illustrated with their own fine views and climbing shots showing intricate details of the sport and the great skill of the early climbers. Succeeded in the business by Ashley’s son, the Abraham photographic business lasted for 101 years.
The Armitt is fortunate to hold numerous photographs and glass plates produced by the Abraham Brothers