Artist: Julia Margaret Cameron (British (born India), Calcutta 1815–1879 Kalutara, Ceylon)
Medium: Albumen silver print from glass negative
Dimensions: Image: 30.4 x 25 cm (11 15/16 x 9 13/16 in.)
Mount: 40.9 x 30.6 cm (16 1/8 x 12 1/16 in.), irregular
Credit Line: Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005
Accession Number: 2005.100.27
On February 21, 1866, Cameron wrote to Henry Cole, director of the South Kensington Museum, “I have been for 8 weeks nursing poor Philip Worsley on his dying bed. . . . The heart of man cannot conceive a sight more pitiful than the outward evidence of the breaking up of his whole being.” An Oxford-educated poet who translated the Odyssey and part of the Iliad into Spenserian verse, Worsley died of tuberculosis at the age of thirty the following May. Cameron’s portrait, made the year of his death, vividly conveys the intensity of Worsley’s intellectual life and something of its tragedy. To her subject’s hypnotic gravity she added intimations of sacrifice, engulfing the dying poet in dramatic darkness.