Art Wednesday

Julia Margaret Cameron: 1815 - 1879

Early photographer - Portraits

Cameron was born in India, educated in France, returning to India when married (to a man 20 years her senior) and moving to Britain when her husband retired from Law Commission in 1948. They moved to the Isle of Wright (her neighbour was Alfred Lord Tennyson). At the age of 48 her daughter gave her a camera and within a year, Cameron became a member of the Photographic Societies of London and Scotland.  During her career, Cameron registered each of her photographs with the copyright office and kept detailed records - she was a shewed businesswoman.  This is one reason why so many of photos have survived today.  In 1875 her family moved to Ceylon, where she died in 1879.  She took very few photos in Ceylon due to the difficulties of obtaining the chemicals required for development.  This is why her career as a photographer last 12 years.

You may not find these photos are all attractive to look at - I can't say I do, perhaps it is the half dead look, lacking in emotion with no smile, or is it the colours that give a rather strange look to them.   However, Cameron's portraits were significant because they are often the only existing photograph of historical figures. Many paintings and drawings exist, but, at the time, photography was still a new, a challenging medium in which she was a pioneer.

 Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1865
She became famous for her closely cropped portraits that we see in may photos today.  These early photos are contribution to the field of photography was huge - especailly considering she was in a women in a very male sphere. She did all her own development, which was highly unusual for a woman, for a woman during the Victorian era.
Taken in 1968
Pre-Raphaelite study - taken in October 1870
 The photographer herself - taken in 1867
"The Echo" - taken in 1968
Charles Darwin


  1. You just do such a wonderful job on this each week...I can see it is your passion. Are you going to write a curriculum one day?
    Thanks for sharing your passion...I so enjoy learning from you.

  2. I like the pictures of the ladies with long hair.

    God bless you!

    Jo, thanks for your kind comment at my blog

  3. Interesting as always, Jo. I enjoy portraiture. The human face is always fascinating.

  4. Jo,

    I really enjoyed viewing these photographs from the 19th century. I actually liked them because I felt they captured the detailed expressions of the people's faces.


    -Lady Rose

  5. Wonderful! I love your comments and we learn so much each week. I continue to tell my friends - Go visit Jo!


    Laura Santos


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