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Robert Elwall 1953-2012

Photograph of Robert Elwall ©Gaby HiggsI only learned this week that nearly a year ago Robert Elwall, the photographic historian and photographs curator at the Royal Institute of British Architects, had died.

Robert was the author of many articles and books on architectural photography and its practitioners, most notably from my standpoint the definitive biography of Edwin Smith in 2007 entitled 'Evocations of Place', ably reviewed on this site by Brian Human. Both Brian and I had met Robert many times and he used information that we had gathered about Edwin in his book.

His dedication to his subject was legendary and his knowledge immense. There could have been no better resting place for Edwin's archive of negatives and prints than the RIBA, where Robert ensured that it was catalogued and made available to researchers into his work. He was always cooperative and generous with his time whenever we met and he shared our enthusiasm and appreciation of Edwin's work.

  • A full obituary was published in The Independent newspaper and may be read online here. Another in The Architects' Journal may be viewed here.
  • Helen Trompeteler, Assistant Curator of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery, London, writes about Robert Elwall on her Camera Portraits site.
  • The RIBA renames its photographs collection in memory of Robert Elwall