John Tarlton: countryside photographer

Tarlton lambsThe countryside of the 1950s-70s through the lens of a commercial photographer

Guest curator: Dr Jonathan Brown, MERL Fellow

4 May - 8 September, 2013

John Tarlton (1918-80) was one of the foremost photographers of the post-war British countryside. Week by week his work appeared in Country Life, The Field, Shooting Times and other national and regional magazines. He undertook commercial assignments for country businesses, societies and individuals.

A countryman himself brought up in rural Essex, John Tarlton learned photography as a teenager in the 1930s, honed his skills during war-time service in the RAF, and embarked on his independent career in 1945.

Field sports were an especial interest, but his work also encompassed the farmed landscape, country crafts and character studies of all sorts of country people, from the cowman to the aristocratic owner of the shooting estate.

About 12,000 negatives and prints were given to the Museum of English Rural Life by the late Mrs Pamela Tarlton in 2004. The collection has been catalogued as part of the Rural Images Discovered Project supported by the Foyle Foundation. Foyle Foundation logo




Further reading

For an insight into the collection and the work that went into putting together the exhibition, read Jonathan's post on the MERL blog

Tarlton images also feature in the June 'Picture of the Month' blog post, by Caroline Benson, MERL Photographic Assistant. 


Jonathan setting up the Tarlton case'Meet the Curator' exhibition tour

  • Sat 3rd August, 2.30pm
  • £3 per person
  • Book

Join Guest Curator, Jonathan Brown for a tour of the exhibition. Learn more about the photographer, the collection and the exhibition from the curator who has spent months immersed in his work.

Afterwards, enjoy tea and cake in the beautiful MERL garden.  


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  • Return to the main exhibitions page
  • Plan your visit

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