Julia Margaret Cameron (British (born India), Calcutta 1815–1879 Kalutara, Ceylon)
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 22.9 x 18.4 cm (9 x 7 1/4 in.), rounded top
Mount: 40.5 x 24.6 cm (15 15/16 x 9 11/16 in.), irregular
David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1966
Not on view
A brilliant poet from an early age, Alfred Tennyson (1809–1892) was widely published and admired by 1850, when Queen Victoria named him Poet Laureate to succeed William Wordsworth. “The Lady of Shalott,” “Break, Break, Break,” “In Memoriam A.H.H.,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” and Idylls of the King, a poetic cycle based on the Arthurian legends, are among his best remembered works. Tennyson thought Cameron’s portraits made him look like he had bags under his eyes (correctly, it would seem), and he dubbed this one The Dirty Monk. In a comment that Cameron quoted with a measure of both pride and umbrage, Tennyson declared: “I prefer the Dirty Monk to the others of me . . . except one by Mayall.” The image served as the frontispiece for Cameron’s volume of illustrations for the poet’s Idylls of the King, displayed elsewhere in the exhibition.