This brings up something that I wonder about: how much of the quality that we see today in these early photographs has been lost due to deterioration. Did the highlights show as washed out 160 years ago? I guess we will never know.
Originally Posted by Flotsam
According to my (very limited) reading, he was very influenced by the Dutch School of painting that was all the rage in England at the time. The Dutch School often showed everyday objects and people in a way that was rare until then where paintings were usually of religious events or of important people. There were often allegories in the work to do with man's lot. Open doors can be used to represent moving through one stage of life to another, or of death of course. The broom blocking the entrance and the lamp made available by the side of the door might mean something too, but I'm not well enough up on this stuff to decipher it...
Technically, good use of glancing light to accentuate texture and well exposed as there is good shadow detail inside the building... A bit obviously staged, but then you have to consider the date - (very) early pictorialism?