Florence [Fisher] thumbnail 1
Florence [Fisher] thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F , Case X, Shelf 311, Box T

Florence [Fisher]

Photograph
1872 (photographed)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

In this strikingly modern portrait, Julia Margaret Cameron’s great niece Florence Fisher gazes directly at the camera. Her frontal pose and the strong contrast between her pale skin and her dark hair and eyes gives the picture a starkness not softened by the surrounding foliage and flowers.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Albumen print from wet collodion glass negative
Brief description
Photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron, 'Florence Fisher', albumen print, 1872
Physical description
A photograph of a frontal three quarter length portrait of a young girl (Florence Fisher) wearing a light-coloured dress and holding roses.
Dimensions
  • Height: 36.5cm
  • Image width: 28.3cm
Style
Gallery label
Julia Margaret Cameron Victoria and Albert Museum Florence Fisher 1872 In this strikingly modern portrait, Cameron’s great niece Florence Fisher gazes directly at the camera. Her frontal pose and the strong contrast between her pale skin and her dark hair and eyes gives the picture a starkness not softened by the surrounding foliage and flowers. Given by Mrs Margaret Southam, 1941 V&A: 209-1969 (25 November 2015 – 21 February 2016)
Credit line
Given by Mrs Margaret Southam, 1941
Object history
Julia Margaret Cameron (1815–79) was one of the most important and innovative photographers of the 19th century. Her photographs were rule-breaking: purposely out of focus, and often including scratches, smudges and other traces of the artist’s process. Best known for her powerful portraits, she also posed her sitters – friends, family and servants – as characters from biblical, historical or allegorical stories.



Born in Calcutta on 11 June 1815, the fourth of seven sisters, her father was an East India Company official and her mother descended from French aristocracy. Educated mainly in France, Cameron returned to India in 1834.



In 1842, the British astronomer Sir John Herschel (1792 – 1871) introduced Cameron to photography, sending her examples of the new invention. They had met in 1836 while Cameron was convalescing from an illness in the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. He remained a life-long friend and correspondent on technical photographic matters. That same year she met Charles Hay Cameron (1795–1880), 20 years her senior, a reformer of Indian law and education. They married in Calcutta in 1838 and she became a prominent hostess in colonial society. A decade later, the Camerons moved to England. By then they had four children; two more were born in England. Several of Cameron’s sisters were already living there, and had established literary, artistic and social connections. The Camerons eventually settled in Freshwater, on the Isle of Wight.



At the age of 48 Cameron received a camera as a gift from her daughter and son-in-law. It was accompanied by the words, ‘It may amuse you, Mother, to try to photograph during your solitude at Freshwater.’ Cameron had compiled albums and even printed photographs before, but her work as a photographer now began in earnest.



The Camerons lived at Freshwater until 1875, when they moved to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) where Charles Cameron had purchased coffee and rubber plantations, managed under difficult agricultural and financial conditions by three of their sons. Cameron continued her photographic practice at her new home yet her output decreased significantly and only a small body of photographs from this time remains. After moving to Ceylon the Camerons made only one more visit to England in May 1878. Julia Margaret Cameron died after a brief illness in Ceylon in 1879.



Cameron’s relationship with the Victoria and Albert Museum dates to the earliest years of her photographic career. The first museum exhibition of Cameron's work was held in 1865 at the South Kensington Museum, London (now the V&A). The South Kensington Museum was not only the sole museum to exhibit Cameron’s work in her lifetime, but also the institution that collected her photographs most extensively in her day. In 1868 the Museum gave Cameron the use of two rooms as a portrait studio, perhaps qualifying her as its first artist-in-residence. Today the V&A’s Cameron collection includes photographs acquired directly from the artist, others collected later from various sources, and five letters from Cameron to Sir Henry Cole (1808–82), the Museum’s founding director and an early supporter of photography.



This is one of approximately 70 Cameron photographs in the V&A's collection that was recently discovered to have belonged to Cameron's mentor and friend, the artist G.F. Watts. Cameron often sent examples of her work to Watts who wrote to her, ‘Please do not send me valuable mounted copies … send me any … defective unmounted impressions, I shall be able to judge just as well & shall be just as much charmed with success & shall not feel that I am taking money from you.’ Many works from this group are unique, which suggests that Cameron was not fully satisfied with them. Some may seem ‘defective’ but others are enhanced by their flaws. All of them contribute to our understanding of Cameron’s working process and the photographs that did meet her standards.
Production
Though this particular print is not titled Julia Margaret Cameron inscribed the carbon copy of the same photograph "Florence".
Subjects depicted
Summary
In this strikingly modern portrait, Julia Margaret Cameron’s great niece Florence Fisher gazes directly at the camera. Her frontal pose and the strong contrast between her pale skin and her dark hair and eyes gives the picture a starkness not softened by the surrounding foliage and flowers.
Bibliographic references
  • 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: 0-500-54265-1 Cat. no. 948, p. 402
  • From Infancy to the Green Years[in Russian] Moscow: State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, 2010. ISBN: 978-5-901124-73-4
  • Weiss, Marta. Julia Margaret Cameron: Photographs to electrify you with delight and startle the world. London: MACK, 2015, p. 112.
Collection
Accession number
209-1969

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

Record createdJune 11, 2003
Record URL
Download as: JSONIIIF Manifest