Julia Margaret Cameron

The exhibition is made possible by The Hite Foundation, in memory of Sybil Hite.

Works in the Exhibition

  • Julia Margaret Cameron

    Henry Herschel Hay Cameron (British, 1852–1911)

    Date: 1870
    Accession Number: 41.21.10

  • George Frederick Watts

    David Wilkie Wynfield (British (born India), 1837–1887 London (?))

    Date: 1860s
    Accession Number: 1977.537

  • William Holman Hunt

    David Wilkie Wynfield (British (born India), 1837–1887 London (?))

    Date: 1863
    Accession Number: 2013.464

  • Don Quixote in His Study

    William Frederick Lake Price (British, London 1810–1896 Lee, Kent)

    Date: 1857
    Accession Number: 69.635.1

  • Cecily Hamilton

    Oscar Gustav Rejlander (British, born Sweden, 1813–1875)

    Date: 1863–1867
    Accession Number: 46.1.45

  • Mr. and Miss Constable

    Oscar Gustav Rejlander (British, born Sweden, 1813–1875)

    Date: 1866
    Accession Number: 2005.100.24

Julia Margaret Cameron

August 19, 2013–January 5, 2014

One of the greatest portraitists in the history of photography, Julia Margaret Cameron (1815–1879) blended an unorthodox technique, a deeply spiritual sensibility, and a Pre- Raphaelite–inflected aesthetic to create a gallery of vivid portraits and a mirror of the Victorian soul. This will be the first New York City museum exhibition devoted to Cameron's work in nearly a generation, and the first ever at the Met. The showing of thirty-five works is drawn entirely from the Metropolitan's rich collection, including major works from the Rubel Collection acquired in 1997 and the Gilman Collection acquired in 2005.

When she received her first camera in December 1863 as a gift from her daughter and son-in-law, Cameron was forty-eight, a mother of six, and a deeply religious, well-read, somewhat eccentric friend of many notable Victorian artists, poets, and thinkers. "From the first moment I handled my lens with a tender ardour," she wrote, "and it has become to me as a living thing, with voice and memory and creative vigour." Condemned by some contemporaries for sloppy craftsmanship, she purposely avoided the perfect resolution and minute detail that glass negatives permitted, opting instead for carefully directed light, soft focus, and long exposures that allowed the sitters' slight movement to register in her pictures, instilling them with an uncommon sense of breath and life.

The exhibition will feature masterpieces from each of Cameron's three major bodies of work: portraits of men "great thro' genius," including painter G. F. Watts, poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, scientist Sir John Herschel, and philosopher and historian Thomas Carlyle; women "great thro' love," including relatives, neighbors, and household staff, often titled as literary, historical, or biblical subjects; and staged groupings such as her illustrations for Tennyson's Idylls of the King or her Annunciation in the style of Perugino.