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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Julia Cameron

b. 1815, Calcutta; d. 1879, Kalutara, Ceylon [now Sri Lanka]

Julia Margaret Cameron is now considered one of the most significant portrait and genre photographers of the nineteenth century, though during her lifetime she was often criticized for lacking technical abilities. After receiving a camera in 1863 as a gift, Cameron fashioned a studio and darkroom by her house on the Isle of Wright. Her sitters included her friends Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charles Darwin, Sir John Herschel, and Thomas Carlyle, as well as family members, including a memorable 1867 portrait of her niece Julia Jackson, mother of Virginia Woolf. In addition to portraits, she made allegorical photographs that referenced biblical stories, Pre-Raphaelite paintings, and classical literary works. Shortly after working on a series of photographs for Tennyson’s poem Idylls of the King (1859), Cameron and her husband left England for Ceylon in 1875, where her output slowly came to an end.