The daughter of the exceedingly wealthy Peter Clovering-Cowper, Earl Cowper, and the legendary society hostess Emily Lamb, Countess Cowper, Viscountess Jocelyn was born into a life of privilege and social connections. When her mother remarried after her father died, Frances (known as Fanny) became the stepdaughter of Henry Temple, Viscount Palmerston, who would become the prime minister in 1855. Fanny also garnered the favor of Queen Victoria, serving as a bridesmaid at her wedding to Prince Albert and later as a Lady of the Bedchamber. In 1841 she wed Robert, Viscount Jocelyn, and bore six children over the next decade. Her husband died in 1854, and she lost each of her children to illness before her own death in 1880.
Unlike the other album makers in this exhibition, Jocelyn practiced amateur photography, using the wet-collodion process, a cumbersome technique that required time, money, education, and skill. A separate section of this album, entitled The Bygone Hours of the Viscountess Jocelyn, features nine photographs that she made of herself and her children in the garden of their estate. Most of the pages in the album, however, are photocollages employing amateur photographs and commercial cartes de visite in highly skilled watercolor designs that honor her aristocratic lifestyle, depicting family and friends, the estates they owned or visited, the jewelry and finery they wore, and the various pastimes they enjoyed.
Like many others in this album, this page celebrates familial connection and continuity, with an interlocking diamond composition emphasizing stability and permanence, even as dresses, shoes, and sleeping dog spill into neighboring territory. Lady Jocelyn placed Prime Minister Lord Palmerston, her stepfather, at the top of the design; her mother, Lady Palmerston, at the base; and various children and grandchildren in between.
Frances Elizabeth, Viscountess Jocelyn (English, 1820–1880)
"Diamond Shape with Nine Studio Portraits of the Palmerston Family and a Painted Cherry Blossom Surround," from the Jocelyn Album
Collage of watercolor and albumen silver prints; 11 x 9 1/8 in. (28 x 23.2 cm)
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra