Charles Smerdon Roe was born on November 21, 1842 in Cambridge, England into a large family. He had two sisters and two brothers. The family home was apparently at 7, Market Hill, Cambridge. After his father George Hartwell Roe passed away in 1874, Charles lived with his widowed mother Eliza in the family home until her death, perhaps in 1881, according to some sources.
Roe may have photographed in the Ickingham area (as indicated on at least one of his photos) in east England known for its heaths, but, according to the September 28, 1895 Photographic Journal he still lived at 7, Market Hill, Cambridge. He was a jeweler and goldsmith by trade, and probably just a talented amateur photographer, given the few remaining photographs from his oeuvre.
This barely documented photographer exhibited in the 1891 and 1895 Royal Photographic Society exhibitions and has a style astoundingly similar to that of Peter Henry Emerson. The image in the 1891 exhibit was called "The Sedge Gatherers". The photo by Roe in the 1895 RPS exhibition was a platinum print entitled, "A Fishing Cottage", which one critic called, "one of the most intelligible of landscapes to be found among those from England."
Like Emerson, he seemed to work mostly in platinum and documented the working communities around the waterways of East Anglia, or the area of Eastern England.
Roe was clearly a student of the naturalistic approach of Emerson and French artists of the period. His work, like Emerson's was devoid of retouching and manipulation, but did use depth-of-field in creating his images, utilizing Emerson's "one-plane-sharp theory". That Roe had at least read Emerson's controversial and influential book, "Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art", published in 1889, seems reasonable to assume. That he was a talented student of Emerson seems more than plausible, given his location and approach to photography.
Apparently Roe was not only known in England, but the German photography journal, Photographische rundschau centralblatt für amateurphotographie (Volume 10) mentions his work.
Roe passed away on February 27, 1900. He is buried in the Mill Road Cemetery in Cambridge in the Holy Trinity Parish with his father and mother.
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Medium Platinum or related metal print
Mount on original mount
Photo Date 1890c Print Date 1890c
Dimensions 4-1/4 x 6 in. (108 x 152 mm)
Photo Country United Kingdom (UK)
Photographer Country United Kingdom (UK)
Contemporary Works / Vintage Works, Ltd.