A retrospective celebrating the bicentenary of the birth of the pioneering Victorian photographer.
Although Julia Margaret Cameron did not pick up a camera until she was 48, she quickly became a pioneer in the subject, and remains one of the most celebrated photographers in history. Known for her powerful portraits and reenactments of allegorical stories, she created incredible images that are at once ethereal and commanding. She deliberately used out-of-focus shots, often including traces of her process including scratches and smudges, and used her friends, family and servants as models in often elaborately-staged sets.
Such unconventional techniques often garnered criticism, but she was nevertheless celebrated for her beautiful compositions. After only two years taking pictures she had sold and gifted many of her works to the V&A, and was offered the use of two rooms as her studio, thus becoming its first ‘artist in residence’.
Marking the bicentenary of her birth, this exhibition offers a retrospective of her astounding output, while also examining her relationship with the V&A’s founding director Sir Henry Cole, who presented her first and only show during her lifetime in 1868. Correspondence between the pair is displayed, offering insights into Cameron's personal concerns about her economic success and technical difficulties. Rare pieces also include the first photograph to be identified from her studio (which has been recently discovered) and the only surviving portrait of Cole taken by Cameron. These are but a few of the 100 photographs from the museum collection that have been selected for this display.