|Volume 2, page 308, sitting number 2524.
Born at Cappagh in County Limerick, Ireland on 13 August 1814, his father was the English statesman Thomas Spring-Rice, created 1st Baron Monteagle of Brandon in 1839.
On 11 March 1839 Stephen Edmund Spring-Rice married Ellen Mary (1814-1869), daughter of William Frere. He became deputy chairman of the Board of Customs.
He was the unwitting subject of a letter written by Antoine Claudet to William Henry Fox Talbot on 23 August 1844: The Hon. Stephen Spring Rice came to have his portrait taken with the Talbotype. We made three attempts. The first time, the light was good & since he could not abide the Sun, we waited for a cloud. Meanwhile, we took the picture and the exposure lasted for 25 seconds. As there were some marks on the negative, I invited Mr Spring Rice to come back. You shall see the two negatives of the following two attempts. The weather was gloomy.
During this gentleman’s three visits, I treated him with great consideration and explained the difficulties of Photographic processes to him. Today, to my great surprise, I have received a very impolite letter in which he writes: “Mr Spring Rice having received a letter from Mr Fox Talbot stating that nothing is easier than to obtain a good portrait by his process in 5. or 6. Seconds, Mr Spring Rice thinks that the most favourable interpretation of the repeated failures at the Adelaide Gallery is that the operator does not understand the process. He will not therefore trouble that person to make another attempt.” I make you the judge of our failures. Perhaps it was a mistake to be too polite and to suggest another attempt after the first one which seems quite satisfactory to me.
Yesterday, we took another very good portrait & I am not afraid to suggest that these specimens are the most beautiful portraits which I have yet seen. It is fortunate for me that I have generally met people who are fairer and more indulgent than Mr Spring Rice & and we have satisfied several people by taking their portraits with the Talbotype. Mr Spring Rice must have little scientific knowledge, otherwise he would not have been so quick to judge between your 5. or 6. seconds & my 25 seconds. He could have imagined that it was necessary to consider the intensity of the light and the focal length of the instrument.
Stephen Edmund Spring-Rice died on 9 May 1865. His father died the following year, and the title passed his grandson, Thomas (born 1849).
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