Magdalene (Brookfield)

Object Details


Magdalene (Brookfield)


Julia Margaret Cameron (British, born India, 1815 - 1879)




London, England (Place created)


May 1865


Albumen silver print


27.1 x 22.2 cm (10 11/16 x 8 3/4 in.)

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Come into the garden, Maud, I am here at the gate alone; And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad, And the musk of the rose is blown.
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson, in Maud

The woman in the garden is a common theme of Victorian poetry and painting, often representing beauty and romantic love. Magdalene Brookfield, a family friend of Julia Margaret Cameron, is the dark-haired woman strolling through this garden. Her pyramid-shaped figure is centered in the photograph, and so is Cameron's focus. Brookfield's face, hand, and a part of a nearby bush are sharply defined. The rest of the image blends into soft-focus, emphasizing her mysterious, pointing gesture.

Perhaps Magdalene represents the subject of a man's obsession, as in Alfred, Lord Tennyson's 1855 poem, Maud, in which the ephemeral qualities of love and a woman's beauty are ascribed to nature. Like Eve in the Garden of Eden, the woman in nature becomes part of a moral theme of the virtuous woman versus the fallen woman. Cameron probably made this outdoor, full-figure study at the London home of her sister, Sara Prinsep.

Whisper of the Muse at Loyola Marymount University (September 12 to October 25, 1986)
  • Laband Gallery, Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles), September 12 to October 25, 1986
Portrait Photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron (November 25, 1987 to February 14, 1988)
  • National Portrait Gallery (Washington D.C.), November 25, 1987 to February 14, 1988
Julia Margaret Cameron: Nineteenth Century Photographic Genius (February 6 to August 30, 2003)
  • National Portrait Gallery (London), February 6 to May 18, 2003
  • National Museum of Photography, Film and Television (Bradford), June 5 to August 30, 2003
Julia Margaret Cameron, Photographer (November 21, 2003 to January 11, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 21, 2003 to January 11, 2004