The J. Paul Getty Museum


Object Details




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




Freshwater, Isle of Wight, England (Place Created)




Albumen silver print

Object Number:



22.2 × 17.6 cm (8 3/4 × 6 15/16 in.)

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Object Description

Within a month of “her very first success”—a portrait of Annie Philpot—Cameron had created a presentation album for her close friend, the painter George Frederick Watts (1817-1904). The album (now at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York), inscribed to Watts and dated February 22, 1864, contains thirty-nine of Cameron’s earliest photographs. It was some time very close to this date that she created the negative for Sadness, a study of Shakespearean actress Ellen Terry (1847-1928).

Terry came from a theatrical family and had her stage debut at age nine. In 1862 she was introduced to Watts, who painted a double portrait of her with her elder sister Kate. In a union engineered by Cameron and her own sisters, Terry and Watts were married on February 20, 1864, when she was just sixteen. Within a year the couple had separated; they were formally divorced in 1877.

The pair spent their honeymoon at Freshwater, and most likely it was at this time that the portrait was made. While the possibility exists that Terry, as an actress, was striking a pose for Cameron, the picture’s title suggests the realization of a mismatched marriage. Terry’s anxiety is plainly evident—she leans against an interior wall and tugs nervously at her necklace. The lighting is notably subdued, leaving her face shadowed in doubt. In The Story of My Life (1909), Terry recalls how demanding Watts was, calling upon her to sit for hours as a model and giving her strict orders not to speak in front of distinguished guests in his studio.

Cameron’s uncertain technique is evidenced by the image loss at the lower center of the picture, where the collodion emulsion peeled away from the glass-plate negative. She must have created only a single negative at this sitting, since she presented this particular print as is in the Overstone Album. The negative was later rephotographed (with the damage repaired) and distributed commercially as a carbon print by the Autotype Company of London (see 86.XM.636.1). This later version was also reproduced in 1913 in Alfred Stieglitz’s Camerawork.

Julian Cox. Julia Margaret Cameron, In Focus: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996), 12. ©1996 The J. Paul Getty Museum.

- 1865

Julia Margaret Cameron, British, born India, 1815 - 1879, by gift to Samuel Jones Loyd, baron of Overstone, August 5, 1865.
Source: Inscription on inside cover of album: "To Lord Overstone/From his Friend/Julia Margaret Cameron/Fresh Water Bay/5 August 1865/ Every thing in this book is from the Life & all these Photographs are printed as well as taken by J. M. C."

1865 - by 1883

Samuel Jones Loyd, 1st Baron of Overstone, British, 1796 - 1883, by gift or inheritance to his daughter, Harriet Sarah Jones Loyd Lindsay.
Source: There is a Lockinge bookplate on the inside cover of the Overstone Album. The Lockinge Estate was purchased by Lord Overstone and given to his daughter and son-in-law upon their marriage in 1858.

by 1883 - by 1920
by 1920 - 1975

Private Collection [sold, "Early Photographic Images and Related Material," Sotheby's Belgravia, London, June 26, 1975, lot 45 to Mickey Pallas.]

1975 - by 1981

Mickey Pallas, American, 1916 - 1997, sold to an unknown collector.

after 1975 - 1981

Private Collection [sold, "Photographs," Sotheby's New York, October 21, 1981, lot 54, to Daniel Wolf.]

1981 - 1984

Daniel Wolf, Inc., sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

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
Fame and Photography (March 9 to May 23, 1993)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), March 9 to May 23, 1993
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, 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
The Pre-Raphaelite Lens: British Photography and Painting, 1848-1875 (October 31, 2010 to May 29, 2011)
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), October 31, 2010 to January 30, 2011
  • Musée d'Orsay (Paris), March 6 to May 29, 2011
At the Window: The Photographer's View (October 1, 2013 to January 5, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 1, 2013 to January 5, 2014

Cox, Julian. In Focus: Julia Margaret Cameron. Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996), p. 12-13, plate 2, 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. 267, cat. 496.