Rosse, Mary

Mary Rosse (1813-1885)

Mary Field, who was the daughter of a wealthy landowner, was born near Bradford in England. She married William, third Earl of Rosse, becoming the Countess of Rosse, and went to live at Birr Castle in Ireland. She became interested in photography and experimented with the recently introduced "wet collodian" process and with the dagurreotype apparatus purchased by her husband in 1842. Her first photographs were of the great telescope and her husband sent these to W.H. Fox Talbot, who was most complimentary and requested that they be exhibited at the first exhibition of the London Photographic Society.

The countess created a fine darkroom in the castle and gradually acquired a wide range of cameras. She exhibited her work in Ireland and England and became a recognised exponent of the "waxed paper" process. After the death of her husband, she moved to Dublin and then to London, where she died. She is buried beside her husband at Birr Castle.

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