The Artist Birthday Series

Julia Margaret Cameron

Julia Margaret Cameron, 1860 - Photograph by her brother-in-law Charles Somers  Cocks, 3rd Earl of Somers
Julia Margaret Cameron, 1860 – Photograph by her brother-in-law Charles Somers Cocks, 3rd Earl of Somers

Cameron was educated in France, but returned to India, and in 1838 married Charles Hay Cameron, a jurist and member of the Law Commission stationed in Calcutta, who was twenty years her senior. In 1848, Charles retired, and they moved to London, England. In 1860, Cameron visited the estate of poet Alfred Lord Tennyson on the Isle of Wight. She was taken with the location, and the Cameron family purchased a property on the island soon after. They called it Dimbola Lodge after the family’s Ceylon estate.

Dimbola Lodge, as seen in 1871
Dimbola Lodge, as seen in 1871

In 1863, when Cameron was 48 years old, her daughter gave her a camera as a present, thereby starting her career as a photographer. Within a year, she became a member of the Photographic Societies of London and Scotland. She remained a member of the Photographic Society, London, until her death. In her photography, Cameron strove to capture beauty. She wrote, “I longed to arrest all the beauty that came before me and at length the longing has been satisfied.”

"Annie, my first success", 29 January 1864. Cameron's first print with which she was satisfied
“Annie, my first success”, 29 January 1864. Cameron’s first print with which she was satisfied

The basic techniques of soft-focus “fancy portraits”, which she later developed, were taught to her by David Wilkie Wynfield. She later wrote that “to my feeling about his beautiful photography I owed all my attempts and indeed consequently all my success”.
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