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Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879), Pioneer photographer

Pioneer of art photography; born 11 June 1815, in Calcutta India; married 1838 Charles Hay Cameron, leading legal officer in colonial service; six children; resident in Britain 1848–75 where from 1864 she pursued a professional career, specializing in close-up portraits of eminent men and beautiful women and photographic renderings of dramatic, poetic and historical figures and scenes; elected to Royal Photographic Society 1864, solo show P. & D. Colnaghi 1865, medals at Berlin 1865 and 1866; a close friend of astronomer John Herschel and poet laureate Alfred Tennyson; died 26 January 1879, in Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

A century later, her work was rediscovered and revalued, and her former home on the Isle of Wight is now a museum run by the Julia Margaret Cameron Trust.

In youth she was described as ‘little, ugly’ but ‘very clever’, [1] and in old age as ‘a terrifying elderly woman, short and squat … with a plump, eager face and piercing eyes’.[2] William Makepeace Thackeray, however, wrote that she was ‘generous, unconventional, loyal and unexpected’.[3]

Dr Jan Marsh

Footnotesback to top

1) Isabella Fane; quoted Olsen 2003, p.80.
2) Laura Troubridge; quoted Olsen 2003, p.152.
3) Quoted Olsen 2003, p.80.

Referencesback to top

Barlow 2004
Barlow, H., ‘Cameron , Julia Margaret (1815–1879)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; online ed., October 2008.

Bryant 2004
Bryant, B., G.F. Watts Portraits: Fame and Beauty in Victorian Society, exh.cat., NPG, London, 2004.

Cox & Ford 2003
Cox, J., and C. Ford, Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs, London, 2003.

Gernsheim 1975
Gernsheim, H., Julia Margaret Cameron: Her Life and Photographic Work, New York, 1975.

Gould 2004
Gould, V.F., G.F. Watts: The Last Great Victorian, London, 2004.

Hill 1973
Hill, B., Julia Margaret Cameron: A Victorian Family Portrait, London, 1973.

Howard 1990
Howard, J., The Whisper of the Muse: The World of Julia Margaret Cameron. A Loan Exhibition … in Collaboration with the Royal Photographic Society, exh. cat., P. & D. Colnaghi, London, 1990.

Melville 2003
Melville, J., Julia Margaret Cameron, Pioneer Photographer, Stroud, Glos., 2003.

Olsen 2003
Olsen, V., From Life: Julia Margaret Cameron and Victorian Photography, New York, 2003.

Taylor & Wakeling 2002
Taylor, R., and E. Wakeling, Lewis Carroll Photographer: The Princeton University Library Albums, Princeton, NJ, 2002.

Weaver 1984
Weaver, M., Julia Margaret Cameron 1815–1879, exh. cat., John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, and tour, 1984.