The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

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,, 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.