[Kate Keown]

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

Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 29 x 29 cm (11 7/16 x 11 7/16 in.) circle
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Jennifer and Joseph Duke Gift, 2005
Accession Number:
  • Description

    In spring and summer 1866, having purchased a new, larger camera capable of making twelve-by-fifteen-inch negatives, Cameron produced a series of twelve “life-sized heads,” including this angelic study of tender sorrow somewhat in the style of Botticelli. Throughout her work, poetic truth was valued above photographic truthfulness. She conveyed a sense of life and breath and of honest emotion through careful lighting, her models’ slight movement during long exposures, a shallow depth of field, and softness of focus. “My first successes in my out-of-focus pictures were a fluke,” Cameron wrote. “That is to say, that when focusing and coming to something which, to my eye, was very beautiful, I stopped there instead of screwing on the lens to the more definite focus which all other photographers insist on.” In so doing, she gave the feeling of both flesh and spirit without, in Rejlander’s words, “an exaggerated idea of the bark of the skin.”

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and inscribed in ink, recto: "From Life not enlarged Julia Margaret Cameron // For the Signor // from JMC"; inscribed in pencil, recto: "No. 4 series of twelve lifesized heads"; Colnaghi blindstamp

  • Provenance

    [Lee Witkin Gallery, New York]; private collection, 1975-97; [Laurence Miller Gallery, New York]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, January 29, 1997

  • See also