Julia Margaret Cameron got her first camera in 1863, at the age of 48, and created hundreds of portraits that experimented with early photography’s flaws. Soft focuses, scratched images, and other distortions contributed to a dreamy quality. Although some of the British photographer’s work can appear a bit sentimental, such as the Victorian recreations of biblical and Shakespearean scenes, her portraits remain compelling.
In September, Bodleian Libraries tweeted that they had digitized 112 of her 19th-century photographs. In a blog post, the University of Oxford library detailed the digitization process, which dates back to the early 2000s, as well as some background on the album. The photographs were compiled as a gift for dramatist Sir Henry Taylor (the album is known as the Henry Taylor Album). Taylor was also a subject of Cameron’s art, as in a “study of King David” where the author’s long beard gives his costume crown a regal weight. Another member of her circle, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, once quipped that her models, frequently family and friends, were her “victims” for all the control (and often props) she put upon them.
Yet Cameron was serious about the artistic potential of photography. In 1868, she was given two rooms at the South Kensington Museum (today’s Victoria & Albert Museum), for her studio. She stated that the ethereal softness of the images was initially “a fluke.” While there were critics of her technique — The Photographic Journal sneered that “slovenly manipulation may serve to cover want of precision in intention” — she had fans in the Pre-Raphaelites, who likewise shared her infatuation with beauty and archaic themes.
She died in 1879, and interest in her work endures. The Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibited her photography in a 2013-14 exhibition, and in 2015-16 the Victoria & Albert Museum marked the bicentenary of her birth with over 100 selections from their collections. “From the first moment I handled my lens with a tender ardour,” she wrote, “and it has become to me as a living thing, with voice and memory and creative vigour.”
View more photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron online at Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford.
I won’t bother you with talk about how obscenely decadent and out of touch the Frieze art fair is. And yet…
Curators Tahnee Ahtone, La Tanya S. Autry, Frederica Simmons, Dan Cameron, and Jeremy Dennis offered the public a window into their curatorial processes through the work they produced during their fellowships.
Who says tragedy has to be tragic? Co-presented with National Black Theatre, this fresh, Pulitzer-winning take on a classic centers Black joy and liberation.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Jeremy Dennis presents an exhibition to offer insight into his curatorial process.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Dan Cameron presents an email exhibition to offer insight into his curatorial process.
For the triennial’s eighth edition, work by more than 70 artists is featured in 12 exhibitions and a polyphonic program, installed at various locations throughout the German city.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Frederica Simmons presents an email exhibition to offer insight into their curatorial process.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, La Tanya S. Autry presents an exhibition to offer insight into her curatorial process.
This exhibition explores the work and short-but-impactful life of the groundbreaking ceramic artist. Now on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Tahnee Ahtone presents an email exhibition to offer insight into her curatorial process.
This week: Why does the internet hate Amber Heard? Will Congress recognize the Palestinian Nakba? And other urgent questions.
Artist Dan Jian makes the point that landscapes and memory are one and the same.