Exhibitions/ Playing with Pictures

Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage

February 2–May 9, 2010

Exhibition Overview

Sixty years before the embrace of collage techniques by avant-garde artists of the early twentieth century, aristocratic Victorian women were already experimenting with photocollage. The compositions they made with photographs and watercolors are whimsical and fantastical, combining human heads and animal bodies, placing people into imaginary landscapes, and morphing faces into common household objects. Such images, often made for albums, reveal the educated minds as well as the accomplished hands of their makers. With sharp wit and dramatic shifts of scale akin to those Alice experienced in Wonderland, these images stand the rather serious conventions of early photography on their heads. The exhibition features forty-eight works from the 1860s and 1870s, from public and private collections.

Featured Media


Society Cut-ups: Victorians and the Art of Photocollage


The exhibition was organized by The Art Institute of Chicago.

The exhibition in New York is made possible by The Hite Foundation in memory of Sybil E. Hite.