The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Parting of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere

Object Details


The Parting of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere


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




Freshwater, Isle of Wight, England (Place Created)




Albumen silver print

Object Number:



35.4 × 28.1 cm (13 15/16 × 11 1/16 in.)

See more

See less

Object Description

In 1874, at the Poet Laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson's suggestion, Julia Margaret Cameron undertook a series of illustrations for his epic poem Idylls of the King. A friend and neighbor of Cameron at Freshwater, Tennyson published the collection of poems in 1872; the poems had taken him nearly forty years to write. The images that Cameron created for the Idyllsare the most illustrative works she made; she took great care with the details of costumes and props to insure the photographs' faithfulness to his narrative. She employed a variety of people as models, going to great lengths to ensure the appropriateness of sitter to subject. This image depicts the final embrace of the tragic lovers before they are forever parted:

And Lancelot ever promised, but remain'd,
And still they met and met. Again she said,
"O Lancelot, if thou love me get thee hence,"
And then they were agreed upon a night
(When the good King should not be there)
to meet
And part forever, Passion-pale they met
And greeted; hands in hands, and eye to eye,
Low on the border of her couch they sat
Stammering and staring; it was their last
A madness of farewells.

- 1975

Private Collection [sold, "Early Photographic Images and Related Material," Sotheby's Belgravia, London, June 26, 1975, lot 49, to Samuel Wagstaff, Jr.]

1975 - 1984

Samuel Wagstaff, Jr., American, 1921 - 1987, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.


Cox, Julian. In Focus: Julia Margaret Cameron. Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996), p. 96-97, plate 47, ill.

Cox, Julian, and Colin Ford. Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs. Joanne Lukitsh and Philippa Wright, contributors. (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003), ill., p. 474, cat. 1170.