"The Prettiest Doll in the World"

Lewis Carroll British
Subject Alexandra "Xie" Rhoda Kitchin British

Not on view

The Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a mathematics professor at Oxford better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll, often photographed friends’ children outfitted in storybook costumes, playacting the sorts of fantastic scenes that appear in his writing. The model in this photograph, Alexandra “Xie” Kitchin, posed more than fifty times over eleven years, frequently for images inspired by literature. The title Carroll gave this work is the refrain of the poem The Lost Doll by the popular Victorian author Charles Kingsley. It tells of a child’s affection for her lost toy, which she finds and dotes on in spite of damage it has suffered. It is unclear whether Xie is meant to recall the girl or her doll, but the emulsion peeling from the edges of the glass negative—which Carroll purposefully retained during printing—frames her obstinance, a visual echo of the dramas played out in childhood imagination.

"The Prettiest Doll in the World", Lewis Carroll (British, Daresbury, Cheshire 1832–1898 Guildford), Albumen silver print from glass negative

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