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Photograph - My Grand Child Archie son of Eugene Cameron R.A.
  • My Grand Child Archie son of Eugene Cameron R.A.
    Cameron, Julia Margaret, born 1815 - died 1879
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My Grand Child Archie son of Eugene Cameron R.A.

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Isle of Wight, England (photographed)

  • Date:

    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 Julia Margaret Cameron, 27 September 1865

  • Museum number:

    45:162

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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Julia Margaret Cameron accepted and even embraced irregularities that other photographers would have rejected as technical flaws. In addition to her pioneering use of soft focus, she scratched into her negatives, printed from broken or damaged ones and occasionally used multiple negatives to form a single picture. Although criticised at the time as evidence of ‘slovenly’ technique, these traces of the artist’s hand in Cameron’s prints can now be appreciated for their modernity.

Cameron was not uncritical of her work and strove to improve her skills. She sought the opinion of her mentor, the artist G. F. Watts, though at his insistence she sent him imperfect prints for comment, reserving the more successful ones for potential sale. Cameron also sought advice from the Photographic Society and from Henry Cole, founding director of the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum), on combatting the ‘cruel calamity’ of crackling that had ruined some of her ‘most precious negatives’.

Cameron printed the bottom half of a negative of her sleeping grandson both on its own and in combination with the top half of a negative of Mary Hillier. ‘Combination printing’, or forming a single print from multiple negatives, was practiced more subtly by other Victorian photographers, often to overcome the problem of photographing multiple sitters at once.

Physical description

A young boy asleep on his side. White fabric covers his stomach but otherwise he is naked. Dark draped robes, probably those of a female standing behind the sleeping child can be seen.

Place of Origin

Isle of Wight, England (photographed)

Date

1865 (photographed)

Artist/maker

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

Materials and Techniques

Albumen print from wet collodion glass negative

Marks and inscriptions

'From Life. My Grand Chils Archie son of Eugene Cameron R.A. / aged 2 years & 3 months / Julia Margaret Cameron.

Dimensions

Height: 12.1 cm image, Width: 36.8 cm image, Height: 18.1 cm mount, Width: 38.6 cm mount

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, 'My Grand Child Archie son of Eugene Cameron R.A.' (sitter Archibald Cameron), albumen print, 1865 [copy of part of 'My Grandchild aged 2 years & 3 months']

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

Julian Cox and Colin Ford, et al. Julia Margaret Cameron: the complete photographs. London : Thames and Hudson, 2003. Cat. no. 161., p. 170.

Labels and date

Julia Margaret Cameron: A Bicentenary Exhibition

My Grand Child Archie son of Eugene Cameron R.A. and My Grandchild Archie aged 2 years and 3 months
1865

Cameron printed the bottom half of a negative of her sleeping grandson both on its own and in combination with the top half of a negative of Mary Hillier. ‘Combination printing’, or forming a single print from multiple negatives, was practiced more subtly by other Victorian photographers, often to overcome the problem of photographing multiple sitters at once.

Given by Julia Margaret Cameron, 27 September 1865
Museum nos. 45:162 and 45:159
[18 November 2014 – 25 September 2016]

Production Note

This is a copy of the lower part of V&A image 45:159

Materials

Photographic paper

Techniques

Albumen process

Subjects depicted

Childhood; Cameron, Archibald

Categories

Children & Childhood; Photographs

Collection code

PDP

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Qr_O98854
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