Thursday, April 09, 2009

Julia Margaret Cameron: 11 June 1815- 26 January 1879

Julia Margaret Cameron was born Julia Margaret Pattle in India, to James Pattle, a British official, and Adeline de l'Etang, a daughter of French aristocrats. Julia was from a family of celebrated beauties, and was considered an ugly duckling among her sisters. As her great-niece Virginia Wolf wrote in the 1926 introduction to the Hogarth Press collection of Cameron's photographs, "In the trio of sisters where.. one was Beauty; and one Dash; Mrs. Cameron was undoubtedly Talent".

1863, when Cameron was 48 years old, her daughter gave her a camera as a present, that started her career as a photographer. Within a year, Cameron became a member of the Photographic Societies of London and Scotland. In her photography, Cameron strove to capture beauty. She wrote, "I longed to arrest all the beauty that came before me and at length the longing has been satisfied."

The basic techniques of soft-focus , were taught to her by David Wilkie Wynfield. She later wrote that "to my feeling about his beautiful photography I owed all my attempts and indeed consequently all my Success".

Cameron's photographs fit into two categories – closely framed portraits and illustrative allegories based on religious and literary works. In the allegorical works, her artistic influence was clearly Pre-Raphaelite.

The wife of a retired jurist, Cameron moved in the highest circles of society in Victorian England. She too photographed the intellectuals and leaders within her circle of family and friends, among them the portrait painter George Frederick Watts, the astronomer Sir John Herschel, and the Poet Laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson. She derived much of her subject inspiration from literature, and her work in turn influenced writers. In addition to literature, she drew her subject matter from the paintings of Raphael, Giotto, and Michelangelo, whose works she knew through prints that circulated widely in late nineteenth-century England. But too she enlisted everyone around her as models, from family members to domestic servants and local residents.

Summing up her influences, Cameron stated her photographic mission thus: "My aspirations are to ennoble Photography and to secure for it the character and uses of High Art by combining the real and ideal and sacrificing nothing of the Truth by all possible devotion to Poetry and Beauty.




anna said...

You always choose such beautiful pictures :). I got her photobook just now, she was amazing.

Your blog is magical as always.

Alice Saga said...

Oh Anna!!! thank you for saying that.

Saga said...

such a inspirational photographer!