Alfred Tennyson

Photograph
May 1865 (photographed)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In 1874, Julia Margaret Cameron's neighbor, and renowned poet, Alfred Tennyson suggested that Cameron create some illustrations for a new volume of his series of poems on Arthurian legends, 'Idylls of the King.' In the end, only three images were used, as woodcuts, but the full-size prints were later published in two volumes and were accompanied by excerpts from Tennyson's text and his signature. This image is from volume 1.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional Titles
  • The Dirty Monk (popular title)
  • Illustrations to Tennyson's 'Idylls of the King' and Other Poems', vol. 1 (series title)
Materials and Techniques
Albumen print
Brief Description
Photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron, 'Alfred Tennyson', frontispiece from 'Illustrations to Tennyson's Idylls of the King and Other Poems', vol. 1, albumen print, 1865
Physical Description
A mounted photograph of Alfred Tennyson shown from the waist up, in 3/4 profile. He has unkempt hair and a beard. He wears a dark cape and holds a book in his left hand. It is part of a bound volume of 13 mounted photographs, 12 pages of verse and 3 additional text pages, with red-leather cover with gold-embossed title.
Dimensions
  • Book cover height: 445mm
  • Book cover width: 348mm
  • Page height: 430mm
  • Page width: 330mm
Credit line
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A, acquired with the generous assistance of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Art Fund.
Object history
Julia Margaret Cameron's career as a photographer began in 1863 when her daughter gave her a camera. Cameron began photographing everyone in sight. Because of the newness of photography as a practice, she was free to make her own rules and not be bound to convention. The kinds of images being made at the time did not interest Cameron. She was interested in capturing another kind of photographic truth. Not one dependent on accuracy of sharp detail, but one that depicted the emotional state of her sitter.



Cameron liked the soft focus portraits and the streak marks on her negatives, choosing to work with these irregularities, making them part of her pictures. Although at the time Cameron was seen as an unconventional and experimental photographer, her images have a solid place in the history of photography.



Most of Cameron's photographs are portraits. She used members of her family as sitters and made photographs than concentrated on their faces. She was interested in conveying their natural beauty, often asking female sitters to let down their hair so as to show them in a way that they were not accustomed to presenting themselves. In addition to making stunning and evocative portraits both of male and female subjects, Cameron also staged tableaux and posed her sitters in situations that simulated allegorical paintings.



Through the acquaintance of the author Sir Henry Taylor (who was a neighbour) Cameron was introduced to poet laureate Alfred Tennyson, who would remain a life-long friend, public supporter and a frequently photographed subject. In 1874, Tennyson commissioned Cameron to create the first ever photographic illustrations for his collection Idylls of the King and Other Poems, based on the legend of King Arthur. This is a photograph from that volume.



This album is part of the Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A which also includes fragments of Cameron's original autobiographical manuscript for Annals of My Glass House.
Subjects depicted
Association
Literary Reference'Illustrations to Tennyson's Idylls of the King, and other poems', vol. 1', by Julia Margaret Cameron. London: Henry S. King & Co., 1875
Summary
In 1874, Julia Margaret Cameron's neighbor, and renowned poet, Alfred Tennyson suggested that Cameron create some illustrations for a new volume of his series of poems on Arthurian legends, 'Idylls of the King.' In the end, only three images were used, as woodcuts, but the full-size prints were later published in two volumes and were accompanied by excerpts from Tennyson's text and his signature. This image is from volume 1.
Associated Objects
Bibliographic Reference
Cox, Julian and Colin Ford, with contributions by Joanne Lukitsh and Philippa Wright. Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs. London: Thames & Hudson, in association with The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles and The National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, Bradford, 2003. ISBN: 0-500-54265-1cat. no. 796, p. 354
Other Numbers
  • XRP104 - RPS collection - V&A identifier
  • 2003-5001/2/25400/1 - Science Museum Group accession number
  • 2317/1 - Royal Photographic Society number
Collection
Accession Number
RPS.1092:1-2017

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record createdNovember 13, 2017
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