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Light and Love

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Isle of Wight, England (photographed)

  • Date:

    June 1865 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Albumen print from wet collodion glass negative

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Margaret Southam, 1941

  • Museum number:

    PH.253-1982

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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Like many of her contemporaries, Cameron was a devout Christian. As a mother of six, the motif of the Madonna and child held particular significance for her. In aspiring to make ‘High Art’, Cameron aimed to make photographs that could be uplifting and morally instructive.

The nest-like bed of straw evokes the manger in which the baby Jesus was lain. Strong light illuminates the baby’s bare skin. The composition is layered from top to bottom with assorted textures: soft folds of drapery, neatly braided hair, smooth skin, and a fluff of hair, which blurs into the rough straw.

Physical description

Photograph of a woman (Mary Hillier) with her head draped in cloth, looking over a sleeping infant (Percy Keown). She has her right hand on the infant's head.

Place of Origin

Isle of Wight, England (photographed)

Date

June 1865 (photographed)

Artist/maker

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

Materials and Techniques

Albumen print from wet collodion glass negative

Object history note

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.

Descriptive line

Photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron, 'Light and Love' (sitters Percy Keown, Mary Hillier), albumen print, 1865

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Baby Rotterdam: Veenman Publishers/ Gijs Stork, 2008. ISBN: 90-8690-167-0.
Exhibition catalogue
From Infancy to the Green Years[in Russian] Moscow: State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, 2010. ISBN: 978-5-901124-73-4
Exhibition catalogue

Exhibition History

From Infancy to the Green Years (The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts 04/12/2010-13/02/2011)

Labels and date

Julia Margaret Cameron: A Bicentenary Exhibition

Light and Love
1865

The nest-like bed of straw evokes the manger in which the baby Jesus was lain. Strong light illuminates the baby’s bare skin. The composition is layered from top to bottom with assorted textures: soft folds of drapery, neatly braided hair, smooth skin, and a fluff of hair, which blurs into the rough straw.

Given by Mrs Margaret Southam, 1941
Museum no. PH.253-1982
[18 November 2014 – 25 September 2016]

Materials

Photographic paper

Techniques

Albumen print

Subjects depicted

Women; Love; Childhood; Hillier, Mary Ann; Infants; Keown, Percy Seymour

Categories

Children & Childhood; Photographs

Collection code

PDP

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Qr_O145027
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