NPG P125 (3a/3b/3c/3d)
Letter from G.F. Watts to J.M. Cameron, undated, giving an assessment of her photographs and advising her to study the technique of David Wilkie Wynfield.
My dear Mrs Cameron,
I would have written to you immediately & answer your questions but the Photographs were taken to Val's & forgotten, not by me, before I had really seen them.
They are all very fine as all yours always are, & if I do not praise, it is because I feel it must be wearisome to you to have just the same things said over & over again, for the
interest of Art & also because I know you must turn your labour & expense into some pecuniary advantage I criticise & I am sure that you should now turn all your attention to the object of producing pictures free from those defects which are purely the result of careless, or imperfect manipulation, it is most especially with reference to the sale of your Photographs that this is so important. Artists & very great lovers of the highest qualities of Art may not & perhaps do not care. Though the greatest art is ever the most perfect
throughout, but the public will not care for any thing that exhibits the sort of imperfection it can understand at a glance.
The jewel of perfection I speak of is best found because it exists in connection with extraordinary artistic qualities, in some 3 or 4 of Winfield's, Val's, Fred Walker, Oldham Barlow - and one or two others - you should make an exchange with Winfield, & keep these as tests of your own, whilst you have (illegible) you see that you can always produce the same kind of excellence so you may devote all your energy to overcoming difficulties of comparatively trifling character.
Your last Tennyson is very fine but a little inky, something wrong about the eye. & rays streaking the forehead, the largest
of the wholelength Boys is very nearly perfect the foot a little too large & perhaps a want of high lights. No. 1 is beautiful but somehow (illegible) with flaws in the plate, the left arm & hand beautiful, he must be a grand boy!
I am told your Photographs are now seen every where & you have only to take systematic trouble in the direction of your (illegible) shortcomings to obtain a definite position as a great artist & in this (illegible) perhaps there is no better.
My work is calling me so I can say no more.
Yours most sincerely