Julia Margaret Cameron

  • born India, 1815 - 1879
  • Photographer, Author
  • British

After receiving a camera as a gift, Julia Margaret Cameron began her career in photography at the age of forty-eight. She produced the majority of her work from her home at Freshwater on the Isle of Wight. By the coercive force of her eccentric personality, she enlisted everyone around her as models, from family members to domestic servants and local residents.

The wife of a retired jurist, Cameron moved in the highest circles of society in Victorian England. She photographed the intellectuals and leaders within her circle of family and friends, among them the portrait painter George Frederick Watts, the astronomer Sir John Herschel, and the Poet Laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson. She derived much of her subject inspiration from literature, and her work in turn influenced writers. In addition to literature, she drew her subject matter from the paintings of Raphael, Giotto, and Michelangelo, whose works she knew through prints that circulated widely in late nineteenth-century England. Summing up her influences, Cameron stated her photographic mission thus: "My aspirations are to ennoble Photography and to secure for it the character and uses of High Art by combining the real and Ideal and sacrificing nothing of the Truth by all possible devotion to Poetry and beauty."