Vivien and Merlin thumbnail 1
Vivien and Merlin thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F , Case X312, Shelf I

Vivien and Merlin

Photograph
1874 (Photographed)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In 1874 Alfred Tennyson, the Poet Laureate, invited Cameron to make photographic illustrations to Idylls of the King, his series of narrative poems based on the legends of King Arthur. After her large photographs were published as small, wood-cut copies, Cameron decided to produce an edition illustrated by original photographic prints accompanied by hand-written extracts from the poems printed in facsimile. She claimed to have made as many as 245 exposures to arrive at the 25 she finally published in two volumes in 1874 and 1875.

The sorceress Vivien, played by Agnes Mangles, casts a spell over the wizard Merlin, played by Cameron’s husband Charles. Mangles later wrote that Charles could not stop chuckling during the theatrically posed sitting, thus spoiling many negatives.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitleIdylls of the King, and other poems, vol. 1 (series title)
Materials and Techniques
Albumen print from wet collodion glass negative
Brief Description
Photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron, 'Vivien and Merlin' (sitters Agnes Mangles, Charles Hay Cameron), albumen print, 1874
Physical Description
A photograph of a woman (Agnes Mangles) standing with long loose hair and her face in profile, point at a robed, bearded man (Charles Hay Cameron).
Dimensions
  • Image height: 320mm
  • Image width: 265mm
  • Mount height: 430mm
  • Mount width: 330mm
Style
Gallery Label
  • Cameron produced two volumes of illustrations to Idylls of the King, Alfred Tennyson’s cycle of narrative poems based on the legends of King Arthur. Here the sorceress Vivien, played by Agnes Mangles, casts a spell over the wizard Merlin, enacted by Cameron’s husband Charles. Mangles later wrote that Charles could not stop chuckling during the theatrically posed sitting, thus spoiling many negatives.
  • Cameron illustrated Tennyson's Idylls of the King, at the poet's request, for a twelve volume trade edition of his work. Her large photographs were published as wood-cut copies, much-reduced in size, and she decided to produce an edition illustrated by original photographic prints like this one, faced with hand-written extracts from the Idylls printed in facsimile. The relevant text is also exhibited here: For Merlin overtalk'd and overworn Had yielded, told her all the charm and slept. And lost to life and use Then in the moment, she put forth the charm Of woven paces and of waving hands And in the hollow oak he lay as dead, And lost to life and use, and name and fame.
  • Julia Margaret Cameron: A Bicentenary Exhibition Vivien and Merlin From Idylls of the King and Other Poems, Volume I 1874 The sorceress Vivien, played by Agnes Mangles, casts a spell over the wizard Merlin, played by Cameron’s husband Charles. Mangles later wrote that Charles could not stop chuckling during the theatrically posed sitting, thus spoiling many negatives. Given by Mrs Agnes May Ffytche, 1927 Museum nos. 81 to 91-1970 (18 November 2014 – 25 September 2016)
Credit line
Given by Miss Agnes May Ffytche, 1927
Object history
Originally part of a bound folio volume containing 11 photographs by Cameron and 11 pages of verse text by Tennyson and 3 other text pages (two photographs are missing, the frontispiece image of Tennyson and the last image, 'The Passing of Arthur'). Volume 1 of two albums of illustrations to Tennyson's 'Idylls of the King and other Poems' published by Henry S. King & Co., 1874-75). Each photograph is mounted on bluish mounts with gilt borders.



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 Alfred Tennyson, the Poet Laureate, invited Cameron to make photographic illustrations to Idylls of the King, his series of narrative poems based on the legends of King Arthur. After her large photographs were published as small, wood-cut copies, Cameron decided to produce an edition illustrated by original photographic prints accompanied by hand-written extracts from the poems printed in facsimile. She claimed to have made as many as 245 exposures to arrive at the 25 she finally published in two volumes in 1874 and 1875.



The sorceress Vivien, played by Agnes Mangles, casts a spell over the wizard Merlin, played by Cameron’s husband Charles. Mangles later wrote that Charles could not stop chuckling during the theatrically posed sitting, thus spoiling many negatives.
Associated Object
85:1-1970 (text)
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: 0-500-54265-1Cat. no. 1164, p. 473
  • Published in V&A Publications/Thames and Hudson 'Making It Up: Photographic Fictions' 2018, by Marta Weiss
Collection
Accession Number
85-1970

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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