The Harbour of Balaklava, the Cattle Pier by Roger Fenton (1855)

The photograph titled “The Harbour of Balaklava, the Cattle Pier” was taken by Roger Fenton in the year 1855. The image captures a scene at the harbor of Balaklava with various elements of the time reflecting its historical setting.

In the black and white photograph, there’s a prominent sailing ship with multiple masts and furled sails docked at the pier. The ship is the most striking feature, taking up much of the central and upper part of the frame, with its bow pointed toward the viewer. The ship’s rigging is intricate and creates a network of lines against the sky. The harbor waters are calm, and the ship reflects on the water’s surface.

The pier is lined with materials and goods, and we can see a roofed structure, possibly a storage or shelter area, adjacent to the water. This structure’s roof appears to be covered with some materials such as thatch or possibly hides. In the foreground, various figures are visible; there could be merchants, sailors, or dock workers engaging in their daily activities, though the image’s resolution and aging might obscure specific details. Livestock, possibly cattle as the title suggests, are gathered in a group near the pier, possibly having been unloaded from the ship or waiting to be loaded. Nearby, on the right side, a cart is stationed, likely used to transport goods, and several stacked barrels are scattered close to it.

In the background, the geography suggests a dry, hilly landscape characteristic of the coastal region around Balaklava, which is situated in the Crimean Peninsula. The photograph documents a moment in time, providing a glimpse into the historical, commercial activities of the era, with Balaklava serving as an important port during the Crimean War, which occurred from 1853 to 1856. Roger Fenton is known for his work as one of the first war photographers, and this image is part of his documentation of the Crimean War context.

Other Photographs from Roger Fenton

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