[Thomas Carlyle]

Object Details


[Thomas Carlyle]


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




London, England (Place created)




Albumen silver print


36.7 x 25.9 cm (14 7/16 x 10 3/16 in.)

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Julia Margaret Cameron photographed many eminent intellectuals who belonged to her circle of family and friends. She had to wait long and patiently, however, for the chance to capture the historian Thomas Carlyle with her lens. Carlyle, famous for writing On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History, sat for Cameron only once, and during the sitting she made two photographs: this frontal portrait and a profile view.

Carlyle's face is cast in deep shadow. The dramatic lighting, which both illuminates and obscures his face, gives the portrait an emotional intensity. Carlyle was an intellectual hero to Cameron. Believing she had successfully captured him in a heroic posture, Cameron inscribed some prints of this image with the caption: "Carlyle like a rough block of Michelangelo's sculpture." This powerful, head-on view reveals a strength and intensity of character that mirrors the straightforward, sometimes antagonistic discourses in his writing.

1984 -

Samuel Wagstaff, Jr., American, 1921 - 1987

Whisper of the Muse: The Work of Julia Margaret Cameron (September 10 to November 16, 1986)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), September 10 to November 16, 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
Experimental Photography: The First Golden Age 1851 - 1889 (April 11 to June 25, 1989)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), April 11 to June 25, 1989
Arrows of Time: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (January 24 to April 2, 1995)
  • Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at UCLA, (Los Angeles), January 24 to April 2, 1995
Julia Margaret Cameron: The Creative Process (October 15, 1996 to May 3, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), October 15, 1996 to January 5, 1997
  • Art Gallery of Ontario, (Toronto), February 4 to May 3, 1998
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
A Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography (February 4 to June 8, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 4 to June 8, 2014

Corcoran Gallery of Art. A Book of Photographs from the Collection of Sam Wagstaff, exh. cat. (New York: Gray Press, 1978) p. 75.

Related Media
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    Audio: Thomas Carlyle (Exhibit: QUEEN_VICTORIA)