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Julia Margaret Cameron

Julia Jackson

Julia Margaret Cameron. Julia Jackson, 1867. Harriott A. Fox Endowment.

Also known as
Julia Margaret Pattle, Julia M. Cameron, Julia Margaret Pattle Cameron
Date of birth
Date of death

Julia Margaret Cameron is known for painterly photographic portraits of some of the most celebrated figures in Victorian England and for staged allegorical images drawn from poetry, literature, and the Bible. She began photographing in the 1860s at the age of forty-eight, after being given a camera by her daughter and son-in-law. “I longed to arrest all beauty that came before me, and at length the longing has been satisfied,” she wrote in “Annals of My Glass House,” an autobiographical essay. 

Cameron exhibited during her lifetime, but she became better known after her death when her works were championed (and reprinted) by Alfred Stieglitz and his fellow Pictorialist photographers. Stieglitz published Cameron’s photographs alongside his own and wrote that she was “one of photography’s few ‘classics.’” Cameron’s photography was further celebrated in a 1926 book, Victorian Photographs of Famous Men and Fair Women, which featured an introduction by her great-niece, the writer Virginia Woolf. 

In 1949 Stieglitz donated nine prints of works by Cameron to the Art Institute, including portraits of poets Robert Browning and Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin. Later acquisitions ranged from exquisite single images to a trove of prints sold to the museum by the Cameron family on the occasion of the 1998 exhibition, Julia Margaret Cameron’s Women. This show underscored the range of Cameron’s female portraits—variously defiant, forthright, melancholy, or languidly sensual—and celebrated her role as a visionary practitioner.

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