Julia Margaret Pattle was born in Calcutta in 1815, the fourth of ten children of Adeline de l’Etang and James Pattle, an official in the East India Company whose riotous life earned him the nicknames “Jim Blazes” and “the biggest liar in India.” Perhaps from him she inherited a strong will and a disregard for convention. As a child, she shuttled between India and Europe and received the bulk of her education in Versailles, where she spent much of her early life with her maternal grandmother before residing more permanently in India from the age of eighteen. In 1848 she and her husband of ten years, Charles Hay Cameron, settled in England. There the Pattle sisters enchanted London society with their beauty and eccentricity, attracting many of the most original artistic, literary, and scientific minds of the day. In 1860 the Camerons moved to Freshwater, on the Isle of Wight. A Christmas gift of a camera from her daughter and son-in-law three years later—given with the words “It may amuse you, Mother, to try to photograph during your solitude at Freshwater”—led to a decade-long career in photography and more than 1,200 surviving images. It is said that her last word, as she died in Ceylon on January 26, 1879, was “Beauty.”
[E.P. Goldschmidt & Co.]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Four Victorian Photographers," November 16, 1967–January 1, 1968.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Julia Margaret Cameron," August 19, 2013–January 5, 2014.