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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

St Paul’s in the Blitz

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

‘War’s greatest picture’ ...
The iconic photograph of St Paul’s Cathedral in the Blitz was taken almost 75 years ago by Herbert Mason - 29 December 1940.
Cultural historian Dr Tom Allbeson’s research on the famous photograph has been published in the UK and USA.
‘To a British audience, the building was … a visual token of nothing short of civilisation itself' - Dr Allbeson explains that the image created emotional bonds with people. St Paul’s was ‘perfectly suited to being a significant wartime symbol’ as -
*A place of worship, whose destruction would be sacrilege
*A symbol of London as the capital of the British Empire
*An emblem of the Great Fire of 1666 - from which it had arisen as a phoenix
Twenty eight bombs fell on St Paul’s on 29 December 1940, and Herbert Mason took three photographs The Daily Mail published the image – cropped and edited, with visible brush strokes for fire. The original negative for Herbert Mason’s photograph has been lost.
While Britain saw the photograph as a symbol of civilisation and defiance, German media portrayed it as showing destruction.
Swansea University academic Dr Allbeson is compiling a book on photography and European cities from 1945-1961. He notes that images can be just as influential as people, ideas or institutions:
‘Photography has infiltrated every aspect of human experience’ and so contemporary history cannot be properly explained without considering photography. Press photos convey ideas, attitudes and values to large audiences.'
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