Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879)

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The year 2015 marks the bicentenary of Cameron’s birth and the 150th anniversary of her first museum exhibition, held in 1865 at the South Kensington Museum, London (now the Victoria and Albert Museum). The museum was founded in 1852, using profits from the 1851 Great Exhibition, with the aim of educating and inspiring British artists, designers and manufacturers and improving the taste of the public. 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 letters from Cameron to Sir Henry Cole (1808–82), the Museum’s founding director and an early supporter of photography.

‘My aspirations are to ennoble Photography and to secure for it the character and uses of High Art by combining the real & Ideal & sacrificing nothing of Truth by all possible devotion to poetry and beauty.’
– Julia Margaret Cameron to Sir John Herschel, 31 December 1864

Julia Margaret Cameron 

 

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