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Photograph - Guy Little Theatrical Photographs
  • Guy Little Theatrical Photographs
    Cameron, Julia Margaret, born 1815 - died 1879
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Guy Little Theatrical Photographs

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (photographed)

  • Date:

    27th February 1864 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cameron, Julia Margaret, born 1815 - died 1879 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Sepia photograph on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Guy Little

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This now famous image of the actress Ellen Terry (1847-1928) was taken by the photographer Juliet Margaret Cameron (1815-1879).

Cameron (who became known for her photographic portraits of nineteenth century celebrities) had purchased a house in Freshwater Bay, in the Isle of Wight in circa 1860 and the original photograph was probably taken in 1864 when the newly married Terry visited the Isle of Wight, with her then husband the painter G.F.Watts.

Employing a non-fading print process used for commercially distributed pictures, Cameron's printer was able to make multiple carbon prints of this photograph available for purchase by Terry and Cameron's fans.

Photography was a novel and exciting development in Victorian days. Most actors and actresses had studio photographs taken, in everyday dress or theatrical costume, for ‘cartes de visite’, and later ‘cabinet cards’. Both were albumen prints made from glass negatives, attached to stiff card backing printed with the photographer’s name.

‘Cartes de visite’, the size of formal visiting cards, were patented in 1854 and produced in their millions during the 1860s when it became fashionable to collect them. Their subjects included scenic views, tourist attractions and works of art, as well as portraits. They were superseded in the late 1870s by the larger and sturdier ‘cabinet cards’ whose popularity waned in turn during the 1890s in favour of postcards and studio portraits.

This photograph comes from a large collection of ‘cartes de visite’ and ‘cabinet cards’ removed from their backings and mounted in albums by Guy Tristram Little (d.1953) who bequeathed them to the V&A. A collector of greetings cards, games and photographs, Guy Little was a partner in the legal firm Messrs Milles Jennings White & Foster, and the solicitor and executor of Mrs. Gabrielle Enthoven, whose theatrical collection formed the basis of the Theatre Collections at the V&A.

Physical description

Sepia photograph of Ellen Terry.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (photographed)


27th February 1864 (photographed)


Cameron, Julia Margaret, born 1815 - died 1879 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Sepia photograph on paper

Marks and inscriptions

' "Freshwater" / "17 years old today / 27 Feb 1864" '
Written in pencil on back of photograph, probably the handwriting of Guy Little.


Height: 13.7 cm, Width: 9.6 cm

Object history note

This is one of the outstanding collection of 19th century photographs owned by Guy Little presented to the museum in the early 20th century.

Descriptive line

Photograph of Ellen Terry, 1864. Guy Little Collection.


Photographic paper




Photographs; Portraits


Theatre and Performance Collection

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