Julia Jackson

Julia Margaret Cameron (British (born India), Calcutta 1815–1879 Kalutara, Ceylon)

Albumen silver print from glass negative
27.4 x 20.6 cm (10 13/16 x 8 1/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1996
Accession Number:
  • Description

    The effusive, eccentric associate of Carlyle, Herschel, Ruskin, Rossetti, and Tennyson, Julia Margaret Cameron earned the admiration of her eminent colleagues when she took up the camera at age fifty. Characteristically Victorian in her intense idealism, Cameron sought to portray the noble emotions, mythological figures, and ancient heroes dear to her heart. She pressed her friends and family to pose in tableaux vivants that may seem sentimental today, but she also took portraits so vivid and psychologically rich that they are timeless.

    Cameron made more than twenty portraits of her favorite niece and namesake, Julia Jackson, to whom she gave this unmounted proof print. She never portrayed Julia as a sibyl or a saint but rather as a natural embodiment of purity, beauty and grace. Spared the usual props and costumes, the twenty-one-year-old sitter here seems bodiless, an ethereal spirit afloat like an untethered soul.

    This poetic image depicts the woman who was the model for the beautiful Mrs. Ramsay in "To the Lighthouse", Virginia Woolf's great novel of 1927. In 1882 Julia Jackson Stephen gave birth to Virginia, who grew up to resemble her mother and, in 1926, to write the first book on her great-aunt's photographs.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Inscribed in pencil on print, verso, top left: "Julia Jackson"

  • Provenance

    Julia Jackson; her descendants; (sold, Sotheby's London, May 13, 1994, ); [Weston Gallery, Carmel, California]

  • Notes

    The same image, printed in reverse, is illustrated in "Masterworks of Photography from the Rubel Collection" (Sacramento: Crocker Art Museum, 1982), pl. 25. That print is titled in ink, on the mount, "Stella".

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History