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Photograph - Annie
  • Annie
    Cameron, Julia Margaret, born 1815 - died 1879
  • Enlarge image

Annie

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Isle of Wight (photographed)

  • Date:

    January 1864 (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:

    214-1969

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 311, box I

Julia Margaret Cameron made this portrait of Annie Philpot, the daughter of a family staying on the Isle of Wight, within a month of receiving her first camera. She inscribed some prints of it ‘My first success’. She later recounted, ‘I was in a transport of delight. I ran all over the house to search for gifts for the child. I felt as if she entirely had made the picture.’

Physical description

A photograph of a young girl (Annie Philpot), showing head and shoulders with dark jacket with a rounded collar, buttoned to the neck.

Place of Origin

Isle of Wight (photographed)

Date

January 1864 (photographed)

Artist/maker

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

Materials and Techniques

Albumen print from wet collodion glass negative

Marks and inscriptions

'Julia Margaret Cameron'
1) Signature; lower right under image, on mount; signing; brown ink

'Annie'
picture title; lower centre on mount; inscribed; brown ink; Cameron, Julia Margaret

'REGISTERED PHOTOGRAPH/SOLD BY MESSRS COLNAGHI/14 PALL MALL EAST/LONDON
on mount lower centre; blind stamping

Dimensions

Height: 19.5 cm image, Width: 14.5 cm image, Height: 38 cm mount, Width: 28.5 cm mount, Height: 58 cm mount, Width: 38 cm mount

Object history note

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.

Descriptive line

Photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron, 'Annie' (sitter Annie Philpot), albumen print, 1864

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

Ford, Colin and Cox, Julian. Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs. London: Thames and Hudson, 2003. Cat. no. 1, p.118, ill.
Gernsheim, Helmut. Julia Margaret Cameron: Her Life and Photographic Work. London: Fountain Press, 1948, plate 3.
Ford, Colin. The Cameron Collection: An Album of Photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron Presented to Sir John Herschel. Wokingham, England: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1975, p. 52.
Gernsheim, Helmut. Julia Margaret Cameron: Her Life and Photographic Work. Millerton, N.Y.: Aperture, 1975, p. 87.
Ovenden, Graham, ed. A Victorian Album: Julia Margaret Cameron and Her Circle. London: Secker and Warburg, 1975, plate 97.
Hopkinson, Amanda. Julia Margaret Cameron. London: Virago Press, 1986, p. 107.
Lukitsh, Joanne. Cameron: Her Work and Career. Rochester, N.Y.: International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, 1986, p.9.
Weaver, Mike. Whisper of the Muse: The Overstone album and other photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron. Malibu, California: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986, p. 86.
Cox, Julian. Julia Margaret Cameron: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum. In Focus, edited by Weston Naef. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996, p. 11.
Lukitsh, Joanne. Julia Margaret Cameron. London: Phaidon Press, 2001, p. 17.
Weiss, Marta. Julia Margaret Cameron: Photographs to electrify you with delight and startle the world. London: MACK, 2015, p. 51.

Labels and date

Julia Margaret Cameron
Victoria and Albert Museum

Annie

1864

Cameron made this portrait of Annie Philpot, the daughter of a family staying on the Isle of Wight, within a month of receiving her first camera. She inscribed some prints of it ‘My first success’. She later recounted, ‘I was in a transport of delight. I ran all over the house to search for gifts for the child. I felt as if she entirely had made the picture.’

V&A:214-1969
[24 November 2015 – 21 February 2016]

Materials

Photographic paper

Techniques

Albumen process

Subjects depicted

Girls; Portraits

Categories

Photographs; Portraits

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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