Today is British photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron’s birthday (06/11/1815 - 01/26/1879). Cameron is known for her dreamy, soft-focus, photos; usually with an allegorical theme derived from literature and religious subjects. But, boy, what a photographic legacy she left in a relatively short “career”.
Cameron was gifted a camera when she was 48 years old and photography was in its infancy. Over the next eleven years, she taught herself how to produce negatives with wet plate collodion and was fastidious about this new medium of photography. She always considered photography an art form comparable to paintings. I think this video of a Tate Museum exhibit that explored the connection between drawing, painting, and photography illustrates the comparison better than I. HERE is the short video. If you watch it, notice how many times Julia Margaret Cameron’s artwork is referenced.
Cameron also created many portraits during her career. Some of these portraits included historical personalities of the Victorian era. In some cases, these portraits are the only existing photographs of these notable characters. Some of her famous subjects include: Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charles Darwin, and Robert Browning. It seems Tennyson was Cameron’s neighbor and brought friends to meet her and see her work. As a result, she would photograph them.
In addition to these noted figures, Cameron also photographed family members. The portraits of her niece, Julia Jackson, are considered some of her most striking artworks. I have included one of the portraits of Julia Jackson here. As a side note, Jackson was Cameron’s niece, but she was also the mother of the writer, Virginia Woolf. Maybe artistic aptitude runs in the family.
Photo of Julia Jackson
Artist:Julia Margaret Cameron (British (born India), Calcutta 1815–1879 Kalutara, Ceylon)
Medium:Albumen silver print from glass negative
Dimensions:27.4 x 20.6 cm (10 13/16 x 8 1/8 in.)
Credit Line:Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1996