Brides of Men and Brides of Art
- Cet article est une traduction de :
- Épouses des hommes et épouses de l’art
During the 1860s, the question of the appropriate legal and social status of women was hotly debated in parliament and argued on the pages of the popular press. Julia Margaret Cameron, by flattening out the physical and affective differences between men and women in her portraits, reflects a moderate view of the roles of both sexes that is consistent with the positions of her friends Annie Thackeray, Alfred Tennyson, Henry Taylor, and Benjamin Jowett. Advocating education for women but stopping short of supporting female suffrage, members of Cameron’s circle echoed Tennyson’s conclusion in The Princess, in which an ideal couple functioned symbiotically. Cameron’s conception of her work as a photographer also was consistent with positions elaborated on the pages of new ‘feminist’ magazines such as The English Woman’s Journal, which encouraged girls to engage in useful social work and emulate heroic women of the past who improved the condition of the outside world as well as their domestic spheres.
A short version of this article was given at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1998 for a symposium organized by Sylvia Wolf in conjunction with her exhibition Julia Margaret Cameron’s Women. I have benefited over the years from discussions about Cameron with Joanne Lukitsch and Carol Armstrong and with the participants in the 2002 Cameron symposium organized by the National Media Museum, Bradford. I would like to thank Colin Ford, Russell Roberts, and the staff at Dimbola for their introduction to Cameron’s life on the Isle of Wight. I would also like to thank France Scully-Osterman for her patience in teaching me to pour collodion on glass. Funding for the research and publication of this article was provided by the Spears Fund, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University.
- 1 Virginia Woolf, Freshwater: A Comedy (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976), 64. This line spo (...)
- 2 Woolf’s attitude toward her great-aunt, as expressed in her writing of this play, has normally been (...)
1Virginia Woolf, in one version of her satirical play, Freshwater, inspired by the life of her great-aunt Julia Margaret Cameron, has the enthusiastic Cameron lament: ‘All my sisters were beautiful, but I had genius. They were the brides of men; but I am the bride of Art.’1 Although this statement tells us a great deal about the repressed conflicts that Woolf herself experienced between the lure of physical beauty and motherhood (embodied in her sister, Vanessa) and her own sense of her superior literary genius,2 the dichotomy between the life of a woman who weds a mortal man and one who devotes herself to her art has structured debates about women’s roles from the first rumblings of the women’s movement to current arguments over daycare. The domestic is set against the professional, the private against the public, the gratification of the physical against the intellectual, the passive against the active.
- 3 By the 1860s, women artists had begun to receive more support from critics and writers acknowledgin (...)
- 4 Lionel Tennyson, in a letter to his former tutor, Henry Dakyns, dated January 20, 1868, wrote: ‘Als (...)
- 5 Julia Margaret Cameron to John Herschel, January 28, 1866, Letters and Papers of Sir John Herschel, (...)
2In the case of Julia Margaret Cameron, the task of identifying into which camp to place her is particularly thorny. Certainly as the least physically beautiful of the celebrated Pattle sisters and the only one to leave a legacy of sustained creative work, she might fit Woolf’s assessment. Her turn to photography in 1863 at the age of forty-eight, a time of life when most menopausal women mourn the death of their self-identification as potential child bearers, would be unusual today and was even more radical in an era that marked all lady novelists and artists as of questionable respectability.3 Hoping to compensate for the losses incurred by her family’s coffee plantation in Ceylon and to fund tutors for her two youngest sons,4 Cameron soon realized that making a profit took more time than she expected. That she marketed her work as would a professional photographer is no longer in doubt. Her registration of 508 prints for copyright between 1864 and 1875, her participation in exhibitions, and her solicitation of press notices from friends confirm what she admitted in an 1866 letter to Sir John Herschel: ‘I have now taken up photography as something more serious than amusement.’5
- 6 For example, she emphasized in a letter to Herschel on January 28, 1866, that she had lifted ‘heavy (...)
3Cameron also fits the description of the aggressive, energetic doer in the way that she went about making her photographs. Countless memoirs recall her bullying distinguished elderly male statesmen and Oxford dons into her vision of the pose. Her development of a totally unprecedented, soft-focus, and extreme close-up style also reflects a temperament unafraid to stand up to norms of proper technique. Her letters are full of avowals that she had no teachers, worked alone, moved large physical weights, overcame enormous obstacles, and dazzled the public.6 Although she would have never proclaimed herself a genius, she certainly does not conform to the stereotype of the modest, self-effacing Victorian woman.
- 7 George Du Maurier is shown with his wife, Emma, in 1874, but Emma never posed alone. Many of the wi (...)
- 8 Diaries of William Rossetti, entry for March 20, 1867, Angeli-Dennis Collection of the University o (...)
4And yet, when one looks at the works that she produced, one would initially be hard pressed to identify them as the creations of such a strong-willed and unconventional person. Dubbed a ‘sort of hero-worshipper’ by Oxford professor Benjamin Jowett, Cameron ignored the personal and physical faults of the great men of her acquaintance and transformed them into ethereal sages and Michelangelesque titans. When she turned to female subjects, she rejected those past twenty or not bearing a Tennysonian, statuesque beauty (with a few exceptions, such as the image of Lady Elcho as an Old Testament sibyl or the ninety-four-year-old Sarah Groves, both shot in 1865). Although contemporary descriptions celebrated the charm and intelligence of many of the wives of her male celebrities, they were not dragged before her camera. One finds no Emily Herschel, no Emily Tennyson, no long-suffering Jane Carlyle, no Alice Taylor.7 One also doesn’t find the female celebrities and bluestockings whose lives intersected her own and her friends’, such as Jowett’s lively correspondent Florence Nightingale, the famous novelist George Eliot (to whom an admiring Cameron sent a series of photographs in 1871), Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s friend the feminist Barbara Smith Bodichon, Jane Carlyle’s confidante the novelist Geraldine Jewsbury, or the aged Elizabeth Gaskell. At a time when, according to William Rossetti, commercial portrait studios such as Elliot and Fry were soliciting Christina Rossetti to add her portrait to a female celebrity series that included ‘Miss Jean Ingelow and Mrs. Charlotte Riddell’ [two popular novelists],8 Cameron pointedly ignored most married, famous, and ‘mature’ (over thirty) female sitters.
- 9 Julia Margaret Cameron to John Herschel, February 6, 1870, in Herschel Letters (note 5), no. 14110. (...)
- 10 Cameron’s relationship with her daughter evolved through time and reflected her need to maintain ma (...)
5Even within her own family, her motherly and photographic concern was directed primarily to her five sons rather than to her sole daughter or her sisters. Those few images taken of her married daughter and namesake, Julia, show her defined by her husband, Charles Norman, or the six children that she bore between 1860 and her death from childbirth in 1873. The aging good looks of Cameron’s sisters – the renowned hostess of Little Holland House Sara Prinsep, the hypochondriacal Maria Jackson, and the famed beauty Virginia Lady Somers – are largely uncommemorated (she apparently took pictures of Somers in 1867 but they have not been identified, and only one plein-air, profile view of the invalid Maria Jackson survives). As each male child left the nest, she mourned his loss, complaining in 1870 that ‘I have a morbid yearning for my absent boys.’9 Her older daughter, preoccupied with her own family, presumably could take care of herself.10
- 11 Christina Rossetti’s 1858 poem, Advent, is quoted on the mounts of several prints of The Minstrel G (...)
- 12 Cameron inscribed on the mount of a version of this print in the Royal Photographic Society a selec (...)
6When Cameron did photograph female subjects, they were often shown not as themselves but as literary, biblical, or mythological characters. Her typology of women consisted of idealized, poetic images of stoic, melancholic maidens whose fates were defined by men – the Virgin Mary worshiping her beautiful boy or mourning in anticipation of his death (such as Blessing and Blessed); the star-crossed Juliet shown with Friar Lawrence as he gives her the fateful sleeping potion; Gretchen at the altar as she prays to find guidance before receiving the nocturnal visit of Faust and inadvertently poisoning her mother; Queen Guinevere after she has retreated to a nunnery to repent her adulterous love of Lancelot. Her contemporary literary sources are the epic narratives and poems of her friends Alfred Tennyson, Coventry Patmore, and Robert Browning, with only two known series inspired by (or given accompanying quotations from) women writers – George Eliot and Christina Rossetti.11 Tellingly, when evoking Eliot’s Adam Bede, she chose not to show the more intriguing, good character Diana, the Methodist preacher, but highlighted the pretty but fallen Hetty, who succumbed to the affections of an unscrupulous local landowner and paid with her virtue and almost her life.12 The many social novels of the 1850s to 1860s probing the fates of unmarried girls and governesses find nary a photographic illustration.
- 13 A good sampling of writings on women’s issues during this period can be found in Patricia Hollis, e (...)
- 14 On Smith’s life and activities as a feminist organizer, see Sheila R. Herstein, A Mid-Victorian Fem (...)
7Nor is there any evidence that Cameron herself took a direct interest in the ‘woman question’ that garnered enormous press in the 1860s.13 Undoubtedly triggered by spreading industrialization, European-wide demands for extended rights and franchise in 1848, debates over the legitimacy of slavery in the United States, and a demographic swell in the number of celibate women, small groups of British men and women, often Quakers or religious dissenters, had renewed the call for greater rights for women in the 1850s. Their initial goal was not female suffrage, but repeal of laws restricting divorce and limiting married women’s rights to self-governance and property ownership. The famous 1856 petition to the Houses of Commons and Lords to enact a Married Woman’s Property Act, organized by Barbara Leigh Smith and bearing 29,000 signatures including those of Jane Carlyle, Elizabeth Gaskell, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Harriet Martineau,14 was only passed in a modified version in 1870 but was hotly debated during the decade of Cameron’s photographic activity. Other controversial topics, such as the improvement of women’s professional and educational opportunities, the proper training for nurses and governesses, female suffrage, and the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts, which seemed to legitimize prostitution and punish victimized women rather than their male clients, were constantly treated on the pages of Macmillan’s Magazine, Edinburgh Review, and Cornhill Magazine, journals that graced the Camerons’ library.
- 15 Cited in Deirdre David, Intellectual Women and Victorian Patriarchy: Harriet Martineau, Elizabeth B (...)
8Could it be that Cameron, in her escapist images of girls removed from the contemporary world, turned her back on her sex and must be cast with those successful, intellectual women who deny that there is anything particularly ‘female’ about their works? Must she be compared to George Eliot, who, as Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar have argued, ‘demonstrates her internalization of patriarchal culture’s definition of the woman as ‘other’ through her continued guilt over societal disapproval, her avowed preference for male friends, her feminine anti-feminism, her self-deprecatory assumption that all other forms of injustice are more important subjects for her art than female subjugation’?15
9What I would like to suggest is that Cameron’s photographs define a position on the question of women’s roles that is neither feminist nor anti-feminist in any modern sense of those terms, but that nonetheless represents a response to the question of what the relationship between the sexes should be as it was debated in the 1860s. The absence of explicit manifestos and direct content dealing with the contemporary status of men and women in Cameron’s oeuvre in no way implies that she was unaware of the contested status of the young girls who were her preferred models and of her own radical position as a female photographer. Like Eliot, her methods were subtle and gradualist, and her ambitions were to teach through example rather than to confront through polemic.
- 16 Carol Armstrong, ‘Cupid’s Pencil of Light: Julia Margaret Cameron and the Maternalization of Photog (...)
- 17 C. Mavor, Pleasures Taken (note 16), 44.
- 18 C. Armstrong, ‘Cupid’s Pencil of Light’ (note 16), 140.
- 19 For example, she consulted Herschel early in her photographic career regarding the ‘accidents’ that (...)
- 20 William Rossetti, to cite just one consistently favorable critic, in ‘Mr. Palgrave and Unprofession (...)
10Cameron’s photographs have already been read by Carol Armstrong and Carol Mavor as ‘feminist’ and maternal in their pointed rejection of the normative negative and print styles of the 1860s and their embrace of a tactile sensuality, out-of-focus, and close-up immediacy defined as feminine.16 Mavor, drawing particularly on the writings of Julia Kristeva, reads Cameron’s pictures as ‘scratched with sexuality and printed with flesh,’ children born from a long-suffering mother whose own children have moved away from her.17 Armstrong, convincingly arguing that Cameron’s ‘investment in her “Art” was erotic as well as photographic,’18 nonetheless persists in seeing the drips, blurs, scratches, and fingerprints marking her plates as characteristically female. However, Cameron did not unilaterally and consistently abandon the standards for pouring smooth collodion plates and fixing rich albumen prints (she did, after all, complain about damages to her negatives and imperfections in her collodion coating).19 And the often-cited, negative critiques of her photographs’ radical style was determined not by the gender of her critics but their location within an aesthetic spectrum (members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, idealist poets, and large sections of the public in fact praised and bought her prints).20
11Given the dangers of essentializing sloppiness and tactility as female, I would rather shift from a focus on Cameron’s handling of camera, plates, and paper to a reconsideration of her choice of subjects read against discourses about the natures of men and women generated within her particular circle of friends. Stepping back a moment from the psychological and personal desires that may have unconsciously motivated her choreographic and technical performances behind and in front of the camera, I want to reclaim for Cameron the possibility of an intellectual and not just an emotional and maternal existence – an involvement with the larger world of political debates, religious questioning, and social reform that recent feminist scholarship on her has often underplayed. What I do not want to do is argue that Cameron had exactly the same beliefs as her friends and sitters who actually wrote about the ‘woman question’ – most famously, Annie Thackeray, Alfred Tennyson, Henry Taylor, and Benjamin Jowett. One may like one’s friends for their sense of humor and hate their politics. Nonetheless, the opinions expressed by Cameron’s closest friends are very consistent and can be distinguished from other groups, more or less radical. Even more telling is, I think, the glaring fact that the status of women was hotly contested, to the point of creeping into private letters and the daily press. Talk of the plight of spinsters, widows, and abused wives touched the lives of every household, where mothers, like Cameron, had to look out for good matches for their sons and money to enhance the declining earnings of their aged husbands.
12While it is easy to show that many guests at Cameron’s home on the Isle of Wight wrestled as much with the roles of the sexes as they did with the nature of religious belief (I do not want to suggest that gender divisions were their primary concern), it becomes much more difficult to conceptualize how these concerns impacted the making of Cameron’s photographs. The photographs need to be viewed as utopias, fictions that she constructed in the name of ‘beauty’ and ‘art,’ not intentionally as social statements. Even in works she considered and advertised as ‘portraits,’ the sitter is transformed through costuming, lighting, and pose into an ideal transcendent likeness more akin to the synthetic vision of painting than the contemporaneity of the carte de visite. An analysis of the meanings of the photographs must always bear in mind Cameron’s self-conscious rejection of what most viewers then and now considered the defining quality of the photographic – its tie to some sort of normally perceived reality. Cameron’s fictional world is in many ways like that of her idol Tennyson, and both weave magic out of dross and project onto their heroes and heroines what they find lacking in their lives.
13To start with, it might be useful to return to those heroes whom she was said to worship. The tendency within recent writings on Cameron, particularly by women, has been to isolate her female subjects from her depictions of men. Men appear more often as portraits with identifiable names on the images’ mounts (and in Cameron’s sales lists) and as rather awkward characters in the illustrations to the Idylls of the King and other narrative prints. Unlike her frequent groupings of girls, adult men do not appear together, even though anecdotes describe her as having groups of visiting Oxford students as potential models. Avoiding young, beautiful, and sexually virile types, she featured the aged (like her husband, who was twenty years her senior), the ill (such as Philip Worsley, whom she nursed and photographed before his death), the celibate, and the clerical. An astonishing number of recent widowers appear among Cameron’s sitters and friends: Robert Browning (whose beloved Elizabeth died in 1861), Henry Longfellow (whose second wife died accidentally in 1861), and Thomas Carlyle (photographed in 1867, a year after Jane’s death). Apart from an occasional friend from her husband’s days in the Indian Civil Service, her masculine ideal consists of poets, classicists, musicians, artists – men of brains, not brawn (except perhaps her nephew, the burly artist Val Prinsep, shown flexing before the camera).
- 21 The portrait of Herschel entitled The Astronomer (in the Royal Photographic Society, Julia Margaret (...)
- 22 For a study of debates over Christian manliness in Victorian England, see Norman Vance, The Sinews (...)
14Cameron’s male sitters emerge out of shadowy, hazy backgrounds as men of feeling – sensitive, passionate, intelligent, sometimes tormented. In fact, if one considers facial expressions and positions of the head, male subjects are staged with the same affective range as women: most are instructed to shift their heads to a three-quarter view and to look to the side of the lens, with only about 25 percent staring at the camera, in profile, or, even more rarely, gazing sharply down or up.21 Despite contemporaneous calls for ‘Christian manliness’ in the writings of Charles Kingsley and Tom Hughes (who sat for Cameron and was a friend), one finds no signs in Cameron’s portraits of the mixture of personal morality and social concern with outdoor sports and healthy bodies that defined Hughes’s and Kingsley’s ideal male.22
15Cameron’s female sitters are appropriate mates for these men. They have been staged as women in moments of thought, rather than during the actions that defined their fates (whether suicide, sexual seduction, or even murder, in the case of the Italian patricide Beatrice Cenci). Some of this was, of course, determined by the nature of Cameron’s notoriously long exposures, which made dramatic facial expressions or simulated mid-gesture poses impossible or too patently contrived. Nonetheless, much faster collodion was available by the mid-1860s, and Cameron seems not to have purchased it. What interested her was the psychological complexity of the young woman who contemplated other, off-camera or future events and weighed what path she should take. Cameron normally avoided giving her images titles that suggest celebrated evil women or femmes fatales, such as Lilith or Medusa, who were often the subjects of contemporary paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti or Frederic Leighton. When she turned to the hotly contested and extremely topical Victorian theme of the fallen woman – Goethe’s Gretchen, Tennyson’s Guinevere, or Eliot’s Hetty – she showed her as remorseful and already punished with guilt or shame.
- 23 On Jameson’s life, see Clara Thomas, Love and Work Enough: The Life of Anna Jameson (Toronto: Unive (...)
- 24 Anna Jameson, Characteristics of Women, 2nd ed., (London: Saunders and Otley, 1833), 7–8.
- 25 Ibid., 16–17.
- 26 Ibid., 21.
16Cameron’s female ‘fancy subjects,’ as they were called, would have been recognized by their Victorian viewers as fitting into a familiar genre of writing and imagery: books and illustrations directed primarily at young women describing fictive and historical female characters whose lives should be studied as lessons in good (or bad) moral behavior. Her model for such an enterprise could have well been the works of the celebrated Anna Jameson, better known today for her early publications on Christian iconography and Italian painting but also a leading feminist and initiator of the 1856 petition for increasing rights for married women.23 For example, Jameson’s Characteristics of Women: Moral, Poetical, and Historical (1832), a book that continued to be reprinted throughout the century, analyzes female characters from Shakespeare’s plays in order to present different models for young women. As she wrote in her prologue, in the form of a dialogue between a man critical of this enterprise and an alter-ego for the author herself, the goal of the book was ‘to illustrate the various modifications of which the female character is susceptible, with their causes and results … It appears to me that the condition of women in society, as at present constituted, is false in itself, and injurious to them, – that the education of women, as at present conducted, is founded in mistaken principles and tends to increase fearfully the sum of misery and error in both sexes.’24 When her interlocutor inquires why she did not use satire, she defends her approach: ‘But to soften the heart by images and examples of the kindly and generous affections – to show how the human soul is disciplined and perfected by suffering, to prove how much of possible good may exist in things evil and perverted, how much hope there is for those who despair … O would I could do this!’25 Selecting Shakespeare’s heroines because they were ‘complete individuals, whose hearts and souls are laid open before us,’26 Jameson grouped them as examples of passion and imagination (such as Ophelia and Juliet); intellect (such as Portia in The Merchant of Venice); affection (Cordelia in King Lear or Desdemona in Othello); and history (Blanche of Castile, Katherine of Aragon, or Lady Macbeth). Consistent with popular Victorian albums of English beauties, the 1848 edition of her book was illustrated by bust-length vignettes of pretty girls whose gestures and facial expressions symbolized these typologies.
- 27 Anna Jameson, ‘Woman’s Mission and Woman’s Position,’ Memoirs and Essays (New York: Wiley and Putma (...)
17For Jameson, drawing women’s attention to all the possibilities of what they could become and how they should govern their lives was an inherently political act, a way to rouse cosseted, upper-class girls focused on balls and marriage to greater self-awareness and service. In her 1842 article on ‘“Woman’s Mission” and Woman’s Position,’ she argued for better education for women after reading recent reports on women workers and their difficult plight. She noted: ‘It seems to me that, instead of stopping to calculate the little or the much we can do, we should all, according to the diversity of the gifts which God has bestowed, bring the best that is in us, and lay it a reverend offering on the altar of humanity, to burn and enlighten.’27 Today, this seems like a very mild goal, preserving the ideals of the Christian woman serving the world, but this language is typical of much writing on women’s issues during Cameron’s lifetime.
- 28 ‘Gallery of Illustrious Women,’ The English Woman’s Journal, August 1858: 4. A second article devot (...)
- 29 Edward Roscoe, ‘Ophelia,’ Victoria Magazine, December 1871: 119–45.
18The realization that middle-class women, particularly younger women, needed to be offered models of behavior beyond those of the drawing room and frivolous romance novels was shared by the energetic founders of the new feminist magazines of the 1860s. The English Woman’s Journal, created in 1858 by Barbara Smith Bodichon and Bessie Parkes as a mouthpiece for women’s issues, featured a series of articles entitled a ‘Gallery of Illustrious Italian Women,’ including profiles of celebrated Renaissance poetesses and female artists.28 Victoria Magazine, founded in 1864 by Emily Faithfull as an extension of the women’s press that she had set up in London in 1860, similarly juxtaposed articles on the need for women’s colleges with a lengthy scholarly analysis of the character of Ophelia (in December 1871), in which her innocence is defended against the attacks of unnamed contemporary German critics who painted her as weak.29
- 30 C.A.L.G., [Anon.] ‘Gareth and Lynette’, Victoria Magazine, February 1873: 312–13.
- 31 J.M. Ludlow, ‘Moral Aspects of Tennyson’s Idylls,’ Macmillan’s Magazine, November 1859: 65
- 32 E. Roscoe, ‘Ophelia’ (note 29), 67.
- 33 Ibid., 67.
19If Cameron’s predilection for female literary characters begins to look like something other than an obsession with oval faces and vacant gazes, her devotion to Tennyson’s poetic maidens can also be interpreted as an expression of her faith in what those female characters have to teach us. An anonymous 1873 article in Victoria Magazine on Tennyson’s ‘Gareth and Lynette,’ part of the Idylls of the King (illustrated by Cameron in 1874–75), refers to recent criticisms that Tennyson had wasted his time on old legends whereas he would have been better advised to treat modern subjects. The writer asserts, however, that the problem is that people don’t read the poet laureate for his ‘ethical under-current’: ‘He has put down the cry of art for art’s sake, by the far greater cry of art for man’s sake.’30 The recognition that Tennyson’s tales of fair maidens and noble knights were thinly disguised criticisms of current behavior had already been made in 1859 in the pages of Macmillan’s Magazine, a journal sympathetic to women’s issues where Coventry Patmore in 1866 would publish his review of Cameron’s photographs and Cameron would publish her own poem in 1876. J.M. Ludlow, in the ‘Moral Aspects of Tennyson’s Idylls,’ in 1859 defined the entire poem as a lesson about love and its diseases. Rather than merely condemning adultery, Tennyson ‘is a Christian poet, and he feels that even in these seeming arabesques of wild fancy there must be a Gospel to be found.’31 The keynote of all the interwoven stories is ‘reformation through Love, love abounding beyond all sin, in other words, the very Gospel of Christ’s redemption.’32 Ludlow defines Tennyson’s works as critical for influencing young persons ‘just trembling on the verge of maturity, when all the senses have blossomed into fullest life, when fancies are just ready to kindle into passions.’33
- 34 Elizabeth Linton, ‘The Girl of the Period,’ Saturday Review, March 14, 1868: 340. On the impact of (...)
- 35 Florence Nightingale, Cassandra (Old Westbury, NY: Feminist Press, 1979), 25.
20Far from seeing Tennysonian subjects and literary heroines as antithetical to the concept of the ‘modern woman,’ Victorian activists on women’s issues embraced their complexity and thoughtfulness and were sympathetic to their plights. The type of woman whom they anathematized, however, was the one caricatured in Eliza Lynn Linton’s controversial article, ‘The Girl of the Period,’ published in 1868 in the Saturday Review.34 The girl of the period ‘is a creature who dyes her hair and paints her face … whose sole idea of life is fun; whose sole aim is unbounded luxury; and whose dress is the chief object of such thought and intellect as she possesses,’ who emulates the demimondaine, who speaks slang, and who sees marriage as a legal barter for money, a house, and a title. Her opposite, according to Linton, was ‘the old English ideal, once the most beautiful, the most modest, the most essentially womanly in the world,’ visible in a Punch cartoon devoutly scrubbing the floor in a church. Although this essay has been called ‘anti-feminist’ and appeared in a venue that was decidedly opposed to outspoken advocates of women’s rights, Linton’s nationalistically tinged criticisms of the modern, French-inspired coquette were by no means inconsistent with the attacks on frivolous girls whose only thoughts were of marriage that were found on the pages of the English Woman’s Journal. What was being proposed by writers from Jameson to Florence Nightingale was not that women assume the mannerisms or professions of men (which were too easily caricatured and attacked), but that they be acknowledged to possess what Nightingale in her 1852 essay, ‘Cassandra,’ dubbed ‘passion, intellect, and moral activity.’35
- 36 Carl Ray Woodring, Victorian Samplers: William and Mary Howitt (Lawrence: University of Kansas Pres (...)
- 37 Anne Thackeray Ritchie’s career has received renewed interest in recent studies of female Victorian (...)
- 38 Anne Thackeray, Toilers and Spinsters and Other Essays (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1874), 24 (fi (...)
21Although Cameron spoke little of the public debates regarding female roles in her letters, she was surrounded by people who were vitally engaged with ‘the woman question.’ The person in her circle who came closest to being an activist in the 1860s was Annie Thackeray, the novelist’s daughter who was taken under Cameron’s wing after the death of her father in 1863. Thackeray had been exposed to radical feminist ideas already by 1854, when, while visiting the home of her friend Barbara Smith, the seventeen-year-old was reportedly shocked by Mary Howitt’s proposal that women should sit in Parliament.36 By the time of her adoption by Cameron, she was already the author of socially concerned articles and short stories on the pages of her father’s Cornhill Magazine and also of the novel, The Story of Elizabeth, published in 1863 when she was twenty-six.37 Her 1861 essay, ‘Toilers and Spinsters,’ was inspired by the two-year-old Society for the Promotion of the Employment of Women, which placed lower middle-class girls as apprentices in needlework and even photography shops and had established a female business school in 1860. Her goal in the article was to show that spinsters had been unfairly stereotyped as unattractive and unhappy and that independence for women, and not just marriage, should be an acceptable goal: ‘[H]ome, husband, sons, and daughters, such sacred ties are sweet, but they are not the only ones nor the only sacred things in life.’38
- 39 Anne Thackeray, ‘Heroines and Grandmothers,’ Cornhill Magazine, May 1865: 640.
- 40 Joanne Lukitsh attributes the unsigned article in the Pall Mall Gazette to Thackeray and discusses (...)
22A supporter of improved education for girls and better training for maid servants, Thackeray in 1865 wrote another article, ‘Heroines and Grandmothers,’ complaining about the melancholy novels being published by contemporary women writers. Praising Jane Austen’s perky heroines, she lamented that modern heroines were ‘morbid, constantly occupied by themselves, one-sided and ungrateful to the wonders and blessings of a world which is not less beautiful now than it was one hundred years ago.’39 One can only surmise that she saw the photographs that Cameron was taking the same year as somehow redeemed by their celebration of natural beauty, rather than as portrayals of victimized women such as the characters of Jane Eyre and Lucy Snowe (in Charlotte Bronte’s Villette) that she deplored in fiction. In fact, in a review of Cameron’s work published in the Pall Mall Gazette in 1865, Thackeray praised ‘the indescribable presence of this natural feeling and real sentiment’ in Cameron’s portraits: ‘[I]t is hard to believe that these quiet and noble looking people are of the same race as those men and women whom we are accustomed to meet with in all our own and our friends’ photography books.’40 Cameron’s sitters exist in a state removed from time, yet express feelings of inspired love, devotion, courage, and self-sacrifice that show what men and women could become if set free from the constraints of Victorian mores and quotidian affairs.
- 41 Margaret Louisa ‘Daisy’ Bradley published her first novel in 1887 and continued to have an active (...)
- 42 The phrase derives from the title of the earliest study of Cameron’s work, Virginia Woolf and Roger (...)
23Annie Thackeray was certainly the most publicly acclaimed intellectual woman among Cameron’s sitters, but many of the girls who dressed up in her chicken coop studio were exceptionally gifted and well educated. Christina Catherine Fraser-Tytler (1848–1927), one of the ‘Rosebud Garden of Girls’ in Cameron’s 1868 photograph, was writing poetry as a child and launched a long literary career in 1870 with the publication of A Rose and A Pearl. Other child sitters such as Daisy Bradley and Agnes Weld also eventually found their way into print.41 The daughters of Oxford dons, poets, ministers, and Cameron’s literary and artistic friends, these children and teenagers may have been chosen for their wavy locks and dimpled cheeks, but undoubtedly chatted in precocious English and recited verses they had heard at home while breaking from sittings before the camera. Cameron staged them as fair maidens as well as portraits under their own names, in the same way that she staged her male sitters, but modern critics have forgotten these young women’s identities and thus have emphasized their physical appeal. Taking into consideration the educational and professional possibilities for women at the time, one could just as easily dub Cameron’s sitters ‘fair men and famous women’ to make apparent the sexual stereotypes that have long flavored interpretations of her subject matter.42
- 43 She certainly knew the poem shortly after its publication, because her friend John Herschel wrote h (...)
24Cameron’s adult male friends certainly appreciated the intellectual gifts of the wives, daughters, and talented girls who frequented their households, but were unwilling to go so far as facilitating divorce, letting women into Oxford and Cambridge, or having them assume ‘masculine’ social roles and behavior. Alfred Tennyson, Cameron’s neighbor on the Isle of Wight and a close friend whose poems were a constant source of inspiration for her photographs, may have discussed with the woman he familiarly called ‘Julia’ the ideal relationship between the sexes during their long walks together. Cameron, in fact, selected Tennyson’s most direct statement about women’s place, the narrative poem, The Princess: A Medley (1847), for inclusion in her 1874–75 photographic albums, Idylls of the King and Other Poems. Why she appended this poem to albums dominated by Arthurian legends cannot be known.43 However, such an inclusion indicates her interest in the allegorical story and can be used to tease out additional clues to how Cameron (and Tennyson) responded to contemporary questions of women’s rights.
- 44 Alfred Tennyson, The Princess and Maud (London: Macmillan, 1908), 6.
25Tennyson’s poem consists of a short frame story set in the present (just before the revolutions of 1848 and at the height of the Chartist movement) and a long, inner tale projected into an unspecified, chivalrous, medieval past. The unnamed, first-person narrator of the frame story, an Oxford student, on summer holiday with five of his classmates at the Gothic home of one of their friends, begins reading an old book describing a warrior queen, which prompts thoughts about the differences between the technological present, in which girls shriek at the snap of electrical shocks, and the brave damsel described in the ancient tale. Gathering on the lawn, the boys and a cluster of female friends and relations begin to debate the possibility of such a woman existing today. Tennyson contrasts the young men, cockily excluding the girls from their gossip about the school term and skeptical that any woman could equal a noble knight, with the assertive but pretty Lilia, presumably a younger sister, ‘half child half woman,’ who protests that ‘there are thousands now / Such women, but convention beats them down; / It is but bringing up; no more than that: / You men have done it: how I hate you all!’44 The male characters continue to dismiss Lilia as ‘petulant,’ ‘a rosebud set with little wild thorns,’ but decide to spin a story in which she becomes ‘some great Princess, six feet high, Grand, epic, homicidal,’ who has retreated to found a university solely for women. The narrator and his male friends in the frame story are transformed into a prince and his cohorts set on invading and conquering this female citadel. The tale is structured as a medley, with each of the seven boys purportedly reciting a chapter. After revisions that Tennyson made for the third edition in 1850, the females of the party are given a role in the medieval tale by singing rhymed verses between each of the narrated chapters.
26Tennyson’s voice in both the frame story and the core text remains difficult to interpret, because he maintains a slightly mocking tone in his depictions of both the egotistical, brash young men and the rigid, academic girls who, in their new women’s university, preserve all the dull pedantry and war-mongering that marred Victorian, male-dominated institutions of higher learning. The prince and his chums are portrayed as comic anti-heroes in the opening scenes, in which they don female garb to breach the walls of the university, but the reader’s awareness that their ‘femininity’ is only a disguise serves to undermine the reality of Princess Ida’s introduction as a masculinized scholar surrounded by books and divine beauty:
- 45 Ibid., 23–24.
‘There at a board by tome and paper sat,
With two tame leopards couch’d beside her throne,
All beauty compass’d in a female form,
The Princess; liker to the inhabitant
Of some clear planet close upon the Sun,
Than our man’s earth; such eyes were in her head,
And so much grace and power, breathing down
From over her arch’d brows, with every turn
Lived thro’ her to the tips of her long hands,
And to her feet. …’45
27Ida’s uprightness and vow not to marry, against the wishes of her father, who betrothed her to the prince when she was a child, are immediately seen as exaggerated and unnatural poses counter to what is good for women.
- 46 Ibid., 11.
28Thus, from the beginning, Tennyson constructs Ida as being more stereotypically masculine than the prince, described as ‘blue-eyed, and fair in face, / Of temper amorous … / With lengths of yellow ringlets, like a girl’ and disguised in a dress until his gender is revealed in Book IV.46 The prince is all feeling, trembling when Ida touches him, until the turning point when he rescues her from a river after she has fled upon learning his true sexual identity. From then on, the prince becomes stronger and more masculine, as Ida begins to doubt the wisdom of war, murder, and revenge and to embrace softness, touch, maternity, nursing, love, and, eventually, marriage. Tennyson inserts the predictable lesson of his tale into the mouths of the convalescent prince, who has once again been rendered weak, but only after demonstrating his heroism on the battlefield. To the tremulous and sighing princess, the prince argues that the ideal relationship between the sexes is one of complementary strengths:
‘For woman is not undevelopt man,
But diverse: could we make her as the man,
Sweet love were slain: his dearest bond is this,
Not like to like, but like in difference.
Yet in the long years liker must they grow;
The man be more of woman, she of man;
He gain in sweetness and in moral height,
Nor lose the wrestling thews that throw the world;
She mental breadth, nor fail in childward care,
Nor lose the childlike in the larger mind;
- 47 Ibid., 135–36.
Defect in each, and always thought in thought,
Purpose in purpose, will in will, they grow,
The single pure and perfect animal,
The two-cell’d heart beating, with one full stroke,
- 48 The paternalistic tone of the poem finds its echo in the conclusion, in which the author returns to (...)
29This merging of male and female into a single, symbiotic being preserves the popular concept of woman as possessing angelic purity, altruism, and emotional sensitivity while allowing her to assimilate some of the powers of intellect that remained classified as inherently male. With the affective drift of both characters toward a shared sensibility, Tennyson appears to call for both men and women to transform themselves. However, in the conclusion, with the prince in a sense educating the princess, Tennyson preserves the normative belief that it is men who must instruct women. The prince remains the suitor and revealer of ideals that Ida admits to having had, but never thought realizable.48
- 49 Hallam Tennyson, ‘Notes,’ in A. Tennyson, The Princess and Maud (note 44), 268.
30Tennyson’s poem was first received by many critics as a comic satire of intellectual women, no doubt because of the failure of Ida’s university project to be sustained and her conquest by love. As Tennyson wrote in his notes to a later edition, ‘the public did not see the drift,’ which caused him to edit the poem and insert the lyrical interludes in an effort to make clearer his sympathies with the cause of female improvement. Hallam Tennyson, in his notes to the 1908 edition, observed that his father ‘felt that woman must train herself more earnestly than heretofore to do the large work that lies before her, even though she may not be destined to be wife or mother, cultivating her understanding not her memory only, her imagination in its highest phase, her inborn spirituality and her sympathy with all that is pure, noble and beautiful, rather than mere social accomplishments; and that then and then only will she further the progress of humanity, then and then only men will continue to hold her in reverence.’49 This faith in the need for female improvement no doubt inspired Tennyson to support Emily Davies’s 1867 ‘Memorial respecting Need of Place of Higher Education for Girls,’ signed by 521 schoolmistresses and presented to Parliament.
- 50 A. Tennyson, The Princess and Maud (note 44), 46, 51, and 18.
31Cameron’s photographic interest in The Princess was a by-product of her larger project in the early 1870s to pay homage to Tennyson’s greatest poems, particularly Idylls of the King. After publishing in 1874 an unusual commercial album that combined thirteen tipped-in albumen prints (twelve of which depicted scenes from the Idylls) with handwritten, lithographically reproduced excerpts from the poem, she decided in 1875 to add a volume including illustrations to other poems, such as Mariana, Maud, The May Queen, The Beggar Maid, and The Princess. The first image, which is the only one to show the princess herself, was accompanied by the handwritten lines, ‘She stood / Among her maidens, higher by the head / Her back against a pillar,’ in the copy currently in the collection of the George Eastman House. This added information confirms what the composition itself reveals: that the scene being depicted is the prince’s second meeting with the princess (rather than the first one, quoted above, where she is seated) in which she again is marked by her great height and the two leopards playing at her feet. In an unusual adherence to the letter of the text, Cameron has raised her central female model on a small stool and simulated the animals through some underexposed leopard skins, which blended so well into the dainty foot of the princess that Cameron (or a later owner) felt obliged to outline the sandal in ink on the print. The frontal stare and expressionless hauteur of the central, standing figure aptly evoke various male characters’ descriptions of her as ‘crammed with erring pride’ (as Cyril, the prince’s companion notes) ‘with a haughty smile,’ and ‘grand as doomsday and as grave’ (in the eyes of an innkeeper).50
- 51 H. Tennyson, ‘Notes,’ in A. Tennyson, The Princess and Maud (note 44), 246.
32Cameron’s photograph, with Ida guarding her body with an oversized antique book to signify her impressive studies, attempts to convey the awe and power that for Tennyson made the princess a creature worth redeeming from her excesses. Hallam Tennyson in his notes on the poem recalled that ‘the poet who created her considered her as one of the noblest among his women. The stronger the man or woman, the more of the lion or lioness untamed, the greater the man or woman tamed. In the end we see this lioness-like woman subduing the elements of her humanity to that which is the highest within her, and recognizing the relation in which she stands toward the order of the world and toward God.’51 Even though Cameron’s model falls short of the grace and beauty described by Tennyson, the photographer arranges the scene and locates her camera to pay homage to an upright woman who only lacks the motherly impulse (which she finds at the poem’s conclusion) to become what Cameron herself aspired to be: a forceful, intelligent, brave, but caring female.
- 52 Cameron’s transcription, as is often the case with the quotations from literary texts that she adds (...)
- 53 There are at least two variants to the print, one of which appeared in the smaller, miniature editi (...)
33Cameron included two other photographs related to The Princess, both of which are closer to her 1860s, bust-length views of costumed women but unusual in terms of the textual passages she selected to accompany them. Rather than illustrating the central narrative, they relate to songs sung by women in the interludes between chapters. One photograph, inscribed with the lines, ‘O hark! O hear! How thin and clear / and thinner clearer further going!’52 shows a female minstrel presumably accompanying the singing of the verses between Books III and IV.53 The verses evoke nostalgia for the past and the persistence of love as expressed in a ghostly echo wafting over a sunset landscape, but have nothing to do directly with the narrative or with the status of women.
- 54 A. Tennyson, The Princess and Maud (note 44), 60.
- 55 We know that Tennyson appreciated these verses as well. James Thomas Knowles noted on October 27, 1 (...)
34A similar composition, shot from a greater distance, introduces a second model, May Prinsep, who stiffly stares at the camera while pretending to strum a mandolin (her mouth is closed, so she does not sing). In this case the flowing, Renaissance-inspired costume is consistent with the location of the song in the story, as identified by Cameron’s inscription on the mount of the second line of the famous ‘Tears, Idle Tears’ that one of the princess’s followers plays on her harp at the beginning of Book IV. However, the musical instrument is wrong, as is Prinsep’s acting, because Tennyson emphasizes that the singer ‘ended with such passion that the tear / She sang of, shook and fell, an erring pearl / Lost in her bosom …’54 In both of these photographs of women with musical instruments, Cameron seems to have taken earlier prints and captioned them with lyrics from popular songs in The Princess, perhaps in an attempt to appeal to the public.55
- 56 Edgar Finley Shannon Jr in his assessment of the early reviews of the poem before and after the 185 (...)
35Cameron’s inclusion of photographs inspired by The Princess in albums devoted primarily to the Idylls of the King reflects her sympathy for the poem’s subject and its wider recognition as a daring, if problematic, composition.56 But what exactly did she think of the poem’s message? As a person of strong feelings, whether love of her sons or generosity to her friends, she would have agreed with Tennyson that Ida needed to learn the value of the heart. But at the same time, surrounded by intelligent young women and an authoress and artist herself, she would have appreciated the complaints of Ida and her friends that drove them to found a woman’s university.
- 57 Jowett participated in the curricular reforms at Oxford in 1847–50 and the expansion of the curricu (...)
36The question of higher education for women, central to Tennyson’s poem in 1847, continued to be debated in the 1860s. Benjamin Jowett, professor of Greek at Oxford University, master of Balliol College, liberal cleric, and one of Cameron’s sitters and Tennyson’s closest friends, was professionally concerned with educational reform and authored a paper on the subject in 1867.57 He was also an enlightened commentator on the education of women. From 1860 until his death in 1893, he served as an intimate friend, intellectual adviser, and religious confessor for the personally reclusive but active sanitary reformer, Florence Nightingale. Whether he ever spoke with Cameron on the subjects of politics, Oxford, and women’s role that he discussed with Nightingale can never be known. But in May 1861, while staying with the Tennysons at Freshwater, he wrote Nightingale that he agreed with her that the position of women in the world was terribly wrong, but that the solution was difficult:
- 58 Jowett to Nightingale, May 11, 1861, in Dear Miss Nightingale – A Selection of Benjamin Jowett’s Le (...)
37‘There are so many germs of nobleness in the characters of women that I cannot doubt a great deal might be done to ennoble them still more. But at present, the best women suffer more than any one from the degenerate state of religion & are fed or feed themselves on Methodistical or Catholic fancies … Wretched Education of women, more solid information wanted, is a very common cry. But for the mass of women I doubt whether any change in the subjects of Education would do any good – a second rate mind intellectualized and crammed with information is very useless and disagreeable. The ‘Sweet creature’ who knows nothing is far preferable.’58
- 59 Jowett to Nightingale, April 1868, in ibid., 141.
- 60 Jowett to Nightingale, May 25, 1868, in ibid., 145.
38After the Cambridge University local exams for secondary students were opened to women on an experimental basis in 1865, Jowett agreed with a petition to extend the exams to Oxford. He also urged Nightingale in 1868 to add her name to the petition to grant female suffrage and to give married women control over their property, presented to parliament by John S. Mill and H. Fawcett.59 A month later, he added in another letter that the work of Miss Anna Jemima Clough, who organized lectures for women to prepare them for the exams in the north of England and who was the subsequent founder of the North of England Council for Promoting the Higher Education of Women, ‘is deserving of every support and encouragement.’60
- 61 Evelyn Abbott and Lewis Campbell, eds., Life and Letters of Benjamin Jowett, M.A., Master of Ballio (...)
- 62 Ibid., 159.
39Nonetheless, by 1873 Jowett had decided that a woman’s university should not try to emulate the curriculum of traditional male institutions. In a letter to his friend, Whig party whip Edward John Stanley’s outspoken wife Lady Henrietta Maria Stanley, regarding her efforts to establish Girton College, he noted that ‘[i]t is not my ideal of a good education for women. I should fear the work was too hard for them, and that they would soon be discouraged by being brought into an unequal competition with men.’61 In 1879, after Lady Stanley published an article in Nineteenth Century on ‘Personal Recollections of Women’s Education,’ he commented that ‘I still incline to believe that as men and women differ, their education should differ in some particulars, and that the average woman cannot with advantage to herself work as much intellectually as the average man.’62
- 63 In an article published in 1849, Taylor advised men on how to pick a spouse and argued in favor of (...)
- 64 Taylor was critical of Mill’s rigidity, dogmatism, and cold abstraction in the section of his autob (...)
- 65 Sir Henry Taylor, ‘Mr. Mill on the Subjection of Women,’ Fraser’s Magazine, February 1870: 147. Obv (...)
40Henry Taylor, who, with Tennyson, was Cameron’s most frequent sitter, shared Jowett’s sense that women deserved to be educated but were inherently different from men in temperament and capabilities. In 1870 he published a response to John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women, which had appeared the previous year but had been written in 1861. Taylor was not a regular commentator on women’s issues,63 but he took an active interest in politics and had known Mill since the 1820s when they had both been involved in a Benthamite debating and social society in London.64 His response to Mill’s call for female suffrage and legal equality opens with a criticism of Mill’s logic and partisan argument, but hinges on Taylor’s belief in inherent differences in capabilities defined by gender (and race). Mill had likened the current status of women to that of slaves prior to emancipation, and attributed their historical failure to succeed in business, the arts, and public life to their lack of education and expectations, rather than ‘natural’ differences. Taylor, in turn, objected to Mill’s understanding of ‘nature’ and pointed out (in Darwinian fashion) that nature ‘renounces equality in races, renounces it in individuals, renounces it both in themselves as they are born into the world and in the fortunes that attend them.’65
- 66 Ibid., 149.
- 67 Ibid., 162.
41Embracing commonplace Victorian notions of the superiority of female empathy and sensitivity, Taylor was careful not to criticize women’s intelligence while defending, contra Mill, that such temperamental differences existed. He noted that ‘[w]omen are, – and I think justly, – generally supposed to have a gift of truer insight into the characters of men than men have; they have for the most part a higher value for goodness in men; and having more humility and a juster sense of their own incompetency to judge of politics and political questions, they may be more confidently expected, first, to seek for the guidance they need, and second, to know where to find it.’66 This, of course, might lead to their exploitation by corrupt politicians buying votes. Taylor went on to consider the suitability of women for various professions, admitting that there might be female clergy, lawyers, doctors, and politicians, as Mill proposed, but concluding that the failure of women to achieve the highest ranks in those areas where they currently could work (such as ‘sciences, art and literature’) suggested that there was more than lack of training or prejudice hindering their success: ‘For myself, though I do not positively deny the intellectual equality [between the sexes], I see some reason to doubt it.’67
- 68 Ibid., 164.
42Mill envisioned a future society in which women with equal rights and better education would improve themselves, their children, and even their husbands. More freedom for more people with more education would result in a happier and better populace. Taylor, harboring his aristocratic and colonialist faith in elite, gradualist governance, objected that more real personal independence could be derived from patience, humility, and charity born of inequality: ‘There is, in truth, no purer independence than that of the man who, being contented with his own lot, is contented also to recognize superiority in another, be it of what is inborn, or be it of what is social and extrinsic.’68
- 69 Jeff Rosen has shown how Cameron’s photographs of Eyre and other members and supporters of the Eyre (...)
- 70 Cameron Papers (note 10), Box 1, folder 10, letter dated November 20, 1876.
43Consistently wary of Mill’s more radical position on a range of issues, including the treatment of the colonial governor Edward John Eyre, whom Mill believed should be prosecuted for his brutal repression of riots in Jamaica in 1865,69 Taylor, like Tennyson, Jowett, and many others in Cameron’s circle, defended the paternalistic right of English men to rule their homes and empire while granting that women certainly had more inherent talent and right to education than had Caribbean black subjects. Whereas it was possible to maintain the argument that dark-skinned peoples displaced in warm climates or waiting table in London households were inherently different in degree of civilization from their benign British protectors (even Cameron herself, writing from Ceylon in 1876, noted ‘the primitive simplicity of the inhabitants’),70 Cameron’s friends had to admit that the intelligent, active women who were their wives and daughters had proven themselves capable of handling their own property, publishing books, and attending universities. However, the ultimate control of the public sphere, at the time when Taylor penned his response to Mill, lay in the hands of 1.5 million adult, male householders and respectable working-class lodgers, 50 percent of whom had gained the vote with the contentious passage of the Reform Act of 1867. Faced with the uncertainties of how these new, lower-born citizens would vote, few intellectuals relished adding the weaker sex to the electoral mix.
- 71 Anna Jameson, Legends of the Madonna as represented in the Fine Arts, forming the Third Series of S (...)
- 72 For some writers during the 1860s, the symbiotic marriage where each partner contributed according (...)
44Cameron’s location within the various debates concentrated in the 1860s on the education and rights of women hovered somewhere to the right of Mill’s strident calls for equality for women and yet, based on her photographic production and sales, somewhat to the left of Taylor’s acceptance of female inferiority in artistic domains. Rather than advocating public, legislative changes, she championed a position that was at once Tennysonian and, above all, Christian. By celebrating men who dared to have tender feelings and women who followed Christ in placing others before themselves, Cameron fashioned a ‘feminized’ world in which both males and females acted for the greater good. Her intensely personal, close-up studies of serious, contemplative women from the Bible, history, and literature encouraged female viewers to train their minds to be as beautiful as the faces which, according to physiognomic theory, revealed them. And, as Anna Jameson had observed in her defense of the iconography of the Madonna against presumed attacks from Protestants, even images of the Virgin (such as the many that Cameron produced) could serve as ‘an acknowledgement of a higher as well as gentler power than that of the strong hand and the might that makes the right.’71 Men, as well as women, stood to benefit from this ideal rebalancing of the sexes.72
- 73 Herschel Letters (note 5), no. 13082, January 28, 1866.
- 74 Ibid., no. 13092, February 18, 1866.
- 75 Ibid., no. 13411, April 20, 1866.
45In Cameron’s eyes, the very taking of photographs was consistent with the ideals of behavior that she established for herself and others. Her letters recount her mastery of the medium as a pilgrim’s progress from the darkness of failure to the brilliance of her successes. Light, which she claimed in 1866 to worship ‘as a very parsee adoring the sun,’73 was a divine substance that revealed what she exalted as ‘this green and sunny earth.’ Her duty was not only to minister to the sick, to give to those in need, to nurture those in difficulty, but also, as she wrote in 1866, to ‘startle the eye with wonder and delight.’74 Photography not only saved her from the sin of idleness, but gave her a medium through which to teach, to guide, and to create ‘in one instant of time the imperishable treasure of a faithful portrait.’75
- 76 Theological debates over the nature of Christ and Mary (and thus the roles of men and women) have n (...)
46Nonetheless, Cameron’s dedicated labor as a new type of professional photographer (normally gendered as masculine) strained against her quest for images that were redemptive, moralizing, and sensually beautiful (traits traditionally identified as feminine, but being reconfigured by the Tractarians and even Tennyson’s writings).76 By effectively succeeding as both a ‘bride of art’ and a ‘bride of man,’ Cameron exceeded the expectations of her peers: she was too good, too giving, too self-sacrificing, too involved with her children, too devout, but at the same time too hard-working, too apt to exhibit her creations, too solicitous of praise. She outdid the women and also outdid the men, including her aged husband. Her answer to the woman question, as expressed in her work but never consciously resolved in her mind, was to eschew the socially imposed limits on female behavior in favor of the cultivated expression across her photographs of an ideal ‘two-cell’d heart’ beating as one.
1 Virginia Woolf, Freshwater: A Comedy (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976), 64. This line spoken by Mrs Cameron appeared in the 1923 version of the play.
2 Woolf’s attitude toward her great-aunt, as expressed in her writing of this play, has normally been seen as indicative of the Bloomsbury generation’s efforts to distinguish itself from the emotional, idealistic excesses of its Victorian parents. For an example of this view, see Diane Filby Gillespie, The Sisters’ Arts: The Writing and Painting of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1988), 67. In contrast, Natasha Aleksiuk has read Cameron’s staged photographs as ironic, which allows her to identify both Cameron and Woolf as critics of gender and class categories: Natasha Aleksiuk, ‘“A Thousand Angels”: Photographic Irony in the Work of Julia Margaret Cameron and Virginia Woolf,’ Mosaic, June 2000: 125–42. I would, however, disagree with both of these views and tend to locate Woolf as sympathetic with the art and anti-Victorian eccentricity of her great-aunt Julia. While researching her aunt’s life, Woolf wrote to Vita Sackville-West that ‘I might spend a lifetime over her [Cameron]’: Nigel Nicolson and Joanne Trautmann, eds., The Letters of Virginia Woolf, v. 3, 1923–1928 (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977), 280, letter dated July 19, 1926.
3 By the 1860s, women artists had begun to receive more support from critics and writers acknowledging the need for many women to support themselves. However, Bronwyn Rivers has analyzed the depictions of female artists in Victorian popular fiction and found that most novels end with the artist subsuming her work to her wifely duties: Bronwyn Rivers, Women at Work in the Victorian Novel: The Question of Middle Class Women’s Employment (Lewiston, NY: Mellen Press, 2005), chap. 4. Photography, with its reputation in the collodion era as a profession for failed artists and conniving entrepreneurs, was an even less salubrious occupation for middle-class women, even though writers such as Charles Dickens in Household Words presented it as an appropriate way for working-class women to earn a living.
4 Lionel Tennyson, in a letter to his former tutor, Henry Dakyns, dated January 20, 1868, wrote: ‘Also one more thing, that Mrs. Cameron has need to part with three sons for India and Ceylon since you left here last; the first one for her coffee plantation in Ceylon, which, by the bye, has brought itself in debt for hundreds every year in the hands of agents and since Ewen has gone out, has brought in over a 1,000 every year’: Robert Peters, ed., Letters to a Tutor: The Tennyson Family Letters to Henry Graham Dakyns (1861-1911) (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1988), 104.
5 Julia Margaret Cameron to John Herschel, January 28, 1866, Letters and Papers of Sir John Herschel, The Royal Society, London [hereafter referred to as Herschel Letters], no.13082. Discussions of Cameron’s commercial activities and copyright registration can be found in Philippa Wright, ‘Little Pictures: Julia Margaret Cameron and Small-Format Photography,’ in Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs, ed. Julian Cox and Colin Ford, 81–94, and appendices A and B (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005).
6 For example, she emphasized in a letter to Herschel on January 28, 1866, that she had lifted ‘heavy things – drapery – groups all and every department I have gone thro alone’: Herschel Letters (note 5), no. 13082.
7 George Du Maurier is shown with his wife, Emma, in 1874, but Emma never posed alone. Many of the wives of her male sitters, whom Cameron knew well, may have refused to sit for reasons of vanity, but we can also posit that she never asked them since they did not fit her definition of the noble and the beautiful.
8 Diaries of William Rossetti, entry for March 20, 1867, Angeli-Dennis Collection of the University of British Columbia Library, Special Collections and University Archives Division, microfilmed by Precision Micrographic Services, 1995. William Rossetti claimed that his sister refused to sit. Cameron may have photographed Christina Rossetti in 1867, but the print has not been identified and was not registered for public sale. See Colin Ford, ‘Geniuses, Poets and Painters: The World of Julia Margaret Cameron,’ in Julia Margaret Cameron, ed. J. Cox and C. Ford (note 5), 24.
9 Julia Margaret Cameron to John Herschel, February 6, 1870, in Herschel Letters (note 5), no. 14110. She does add that ‘her Julia’ was at Reigate with her five children.
10 Cameron’s relationship with her daughter evolved through time and reflected her need to maintain maternal control over and infantilize her children. According to Victoria Olsen, Cameron adored her first-born child and wrote loving (but admonitory) letters to her up until Julia Hay’s marriage in 1859. As these letters reveal, Cameron preserved very traditional ideas of the differences in degree of appropriate physical activity for girls and boys. For example, on April 7, 1845, she wrote from India to Julia, who was living with her brothers in Great Britain: ‘You must remember my treasure that because you are with boys you are not to romp as your dear Cameron and your brother Eugene do. That your little heart should always rejoice and your life be one of glee and mirth is my earnest wish but you can be gentle even when in the highest possible spirits and you always were gentle in your merriest games here’: Cameron papers, J. Paul Getty Research Institute, Box 1, folder 8. When Julia apparently went against her mother’s wishes (for example, by prolonging a visit at the home of her future husband, Charles Norman, in 1856), Cameron accused her of lack of love. Even though Julia and Charles Norman gave Cameron her first camera in 1863, relations with the Norman family seem to have been somewhat cool during the late 1860s. Victoria Olsen observed that the Normans were never mentioned as Freshwater guests, although in an unpublished letter to Bostonian friend Sam Ward on August 15, 1869, Julia Norman mentioned that she was sending her children to a hotel in Freshwater for the holidays: Ward papers, Houghton Library, Harvard University, bMS Am 1465, Norman files. After her daughter’s death in 1873, Cameron confessed to Sir William Gregory: ‘I try to arise & be hopeful – and the prospect of my Son Hardinge’s return to me is indeed like the rising of the Sun after a long dark night because the departure of my Benjamin of my youngest Son Henry Herschel Hay I felt even more acutely than I did my Daughter’s death. This might seem to some unnatural but it was natural to me – even much as I cherished my daughter my youngest son had kept so close to me thro’ all my severest trials’: letter dated January 8, 1874, cited in Olson, 230. On Cameron and her daughter, see Victoria Olson, From Life: Julia Margaret Cameron and Victorian Photography (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 64–67, 99–100, 104–5, 230.
11 Christina Rossetti’s 1858 poem, Advent, is quoted on the mounts of several prints of The Minstrel Group: see Cox and Ford, Getty cat. no. 1099 (note 5). However, this grouping of Mary Ryan with the young Keown sisters has little to do with the religious subject of the poem, and the line inscribed on the mount, ‘We sing a slow contented song and knock at Paradise,’ seems to be an afterthought with no identifiable link to the figures depicted. Kate Keown, wearing the same Italianate costume, reappears in another print inscribed ‘Mignon’: ibid., Getty cat. no. 985. Cameron did, however, know the Rossettis, and Christina reported to her brother William on June 4, 1866: ‘Mrs. Cameron called one day (of course in London) with a portfolio of her magnificent photographs, of which she kindly presented 5 to Mamma, Maria, and self. Maria and I returned her visit at Little Holland House, where we saw the gigantic Val, Mr. Watts, Mrs. Dalrymple, and got a glimpse of Browning, besides of course seeing Mrs. Cameron. I am asked down to Freshwater Bay, and promised to see Tennyson if I go; but the whole plan is altogether uncertain, and I am too shy to contemplate it with anything like unmixed pleasure.’ Christina’s shyness undoubtedly prevented the photographic sitting as well: Anthony H. Harrison, ed., The Letters of Christina Rossetti, vol. 1 (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1997), 274.
12 Cameron inscribed on the mount of a version of this print in the Royal Photographic Society a selection from chapter 9 in which Eliot reveals Hetty’s vanity and superficiality: ‘And always when Adam stayed away for several weeks from the Hall – Farm & otherwise made some show of resistance to his passion as a foolish one Hetty took care to entice him back into the net, by little airs of meekness and timidity as if she were in trouble at his neglect. But as to marrying Adam that was a very different affair.’ See Adam Bede, cited in Julia Margaret Cameron, ed. J. Cox and C. Ford (note 5), 463.
13 A good sampling of writings on women’s issues during this period can be found in Patricia Hollis, ed., Women in Public, 1850–1900: Documents of the Victorian Women’s Movement (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1979).
14 On Smith’s life and activities as a feminist organizer, see Sheila R. Herstein, A Mid-Victorian Feminist, Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985). There is some inconsistency in the reports on how many signatures the Married Woman’s Property Act petition received. Christine Bolt claims 3,000 London signatories with 26,000 from the country at large: Christine Bolt, The Women’s Movements in the United States and Britain from the 1790s to the 1920s (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993), 99.
15 Cited in Deirdre David, Intellectual Women and Victorian Patriarchy: Harriet Martineau, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Eliot (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987), 178. David traces the ambivalent feelings of many female writers toward the women’s movement of the 1850s to 1860s.
16 Carol Armstrong, ‘Cupid’s Pencil of Light: Julia Margaret Cameron and the Maternalization of Photography,’ October 76 (Spring 1996): 114–41; Carol Mavor, Pleasures Taken: Performances of Sexuality and Loss in Victorian Photographs (Durham: Duke University Press, 1995), 44–64.
17 C. Mavor, Pleasures Taken (note 16), 44.
18 C. Armstrong, ‘Cupid’s Pencil of Light’ (note 16), 140.
19 For example, she consulted Herschel early in her photographic career regarding the ‘accidents’ that were occurring in her plates: ‘light kept getting in the camera – the film came off my plate in certain weathers, the plate is not equally covered with film, a streak repeats itself on the side of each glass as I take it out of the bath, a print beautifully printed often turns green’: Herschel Letters (note 5), March 20, 1864, no. 12523. In a letter dated February 6, 1870, she lamented the loss of a large portrait of Herschel as a result of ‘that insidious honeycomb tracery produced when varnish and film cracks appeared all over the glass and blisters rose and the whole head vanished.’ She then learned to retouch the cracked areas using lampblack: Herschel Letters (note 5), no. 14110. The out-of-focus resulting from long exposures compounded by lens and camera adjustments was intentional (at least after her first few months of photographic apprenticeship), but many of the other irregularities in her negatives were not necessarily desired. In some cases, she printed from streaked, blistered, and crazed collodion negatives because the image itself was beautiful and impossible to duplicate.
20 William Rossetti, to cite just one consistently favorable critic, in ‘Mr. Palgrave and Unprofessional Criticisms on Art,’ compared the practice of criticism to that of photography and noted: ‘Exceptional in the critical as in the photographic art are those productions which – like the surprising and magnificent pictorial photographs of Mrs. Cameron to be seen at Colnaghi’s – well-nigh re-create a subject; place it in novel, unanticipable lights; aggrandize the fine, suppress or ignore the petty; and transfigure both the subject-matter, and the reproducing process itself, into something almost higher than we knew them to be. This is the greatest style of photography or of criticism; but it undoubtedly partakes of the encroaching or absorptive nature, such as modifies if it does not actually distort the objects represented, and insists upon our thinking as much of the operator, and of how he has been operating, as of those objects themselves’: William Michael Rossetti, Fine Art, Chiefly Contemporary (London: Macmillan, 1867), 333–34.
21 The portrait of Herschel entitled The Astronomer (in the Royal Photographic Society, Julia Margaret Cameron, ed. J. Cox and C. Ford [note 5], cat. no. 677) is unusual in its depiction of the sitter struck with divine inspiration from the stars. The upward gaze is equally rare in views of women, most notably seen in Mary Hillier in La Madonna Esaltata [Fervent in prayer], in the J. Paul Getty Museum Overstone album (Julia Margaret Cameron, ed. J. Cox and C. Ford [note 5], cat. no. 54) or The Nativity (ibid., cat. no. 90).
22 For a study of debates over Christian manliness in Victorian England, see Norman Vance, The Sinews of the Spirit: The Ideal of Christian Manliness in Victorian Literature and Religious Thought (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1985). Vance outlines the protests that paintings of Christ by members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood inspired, such as Carlyle’s complaints about the papist ethereality of Christ in Holman Hunt’s Light of the World (1854). In turn, depictions of an over-muscular Christ, such as the figure in Ford Madox Brown’s Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet (1852), were seen as too materialistic and coarse.
23 On Jameson’s life, see Clara Thomas, Love and Work Enough: The Life of Anna Jameson (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1967).
24 Anna Jameson, Characteristics of Women, 2nd ed., (London: Saunders and Otley, 1833), 7–8.
25 Ibid., 16–17.
26 Ibid., 21.
27 Anna Jameson, ‘Woman’s Mission and Woman’s Position,’ Memoirs and Essays (New York: Wiley and Putman, 1846), 130.
28 ‘Gallery of Illustrious Women,’ The English Woman’s Journal, August 1858: 4. A second article devoted to Italian women artists appeared in the November and December 1858 issues.
29 Edward Roscoe, ‘Ophelia,’ Victoria Magazine, December 1871: 119–45.
30 C.A.L.G., [Anon.] ‘Gareth and Lynette’, Victoria Magazine, February 1873: 312–13.
31 J.M. Ludlow, ‘Moral Aspects of Tennyson’s Idylls,’ Macmillan’s Magazine, November 1859: 65
32 E. Roscoe, ‘Ophelia’ (note 29), 67.
33 Ibid., 67.
34 Elizabeth Linton, ‘The Girl of the Period,’ Saturday Review, March 14, 1868: 340. On the impact of this essay and the life of Linton, see Elizabeth K. Helsinger, Robin Lauterback Sheets, and William Veeder, The Woman Question: Defining Voices, 1837–1883 (New York: Garland Publishing, 1983), chap. 6.
35 Florence Nightingale, Cassandra (Old Westbury, NY: Feminist Press, 1979), 25.
36 Carl Ray Woodring, Victorian Samplers: William and Mary Howitt (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1952), 180.
37 Anne Thackeray Ritchie’s career has received renewed interest in recent studies of female Victorian writers. For a thoughtful analysis of her non-fiction essays, see Manuela Mourão, ‘Delicate Balances: Gender and Power in Anne Thackeray Ritchie’s Non-fiction,’ Women’s Writing 4, no. 1 (1997): 73–91. The only biographies of Ritchie are Henrietta Garnett, Anny: A Life of Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie (London: Catto and Windus, 2004) and Winifred Gérin, Anne Thackeray Ritchie: A Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981).
38 Anne Thackeray, Toilers and Spinsters and Other Essays (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1874), 24 (first published in Cornhill Magazine in March 1861).
39 Anne Thackeray, ‘Heroines and Grandmothers,’ Cornhill Magazine, May 1865: 640.
40 Joanne Lukitsh attributes the unsigned article in the Pall Mall Gazette to Thackeray and discusses her relationship to Cameron: Joanne Lukitsh, ‘The Thackeray Album: Looking at Julia Margaret Cameron’s Gift to Her Friend Annie Thackeray,’ Library Chronicle of the University of Texas at Austin 26, no. 4 (1996): 32–61.
41 Margaret Louisa ‘Daisy’ Bradley published her first novel in 1887 and continued to have an active career into the twentieth century. See Marthat Vogeler, ‘Woods [née Bradley], Margaret Louisa [Daisy]’ in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Agnes Weld published her memoirs of the Tennyson circle, Glimpses of Tennyson and Some of His Relations and Friends (1902) as well as a travel account, Sacred Palmlands; or, the Journal of a Spring Tour (1881).
42 The phrase derives from the title of the earliest study of Cameron’s work, Virginia Woolf and Roger Fry, Victorian Photographs of Famous Men and Fair Women by Julia Margaret Cameron (London: Hogarth Press, 1926).
43 She certainly knew the poem shortly after its publication, because her friend John Herschel wrote her on August 26, 1853: ‘I have just been reading for the first time … Tennyson’s Princess. It gives me a much higher idea of Tennyson than I had’: Cameron Papers (note 10), Paul Getty Research Institute, Box 1, folder 12.
44 Alfred Tennyson, The Princess and Maud (London: Macmillan, 1908), 6.
45 Ibid., 23–24.
46 Ibid., 11.
47 Ibid., 135–36.
48 The paternalistic tone of the poem finds its echo in the conclusion, in which the author returns to the frame story and a meditation on the state of England and the threat of revolution from France. Tennyson suggests that Britain can be saved from social upheavals through the munificence of enlightened squires like the father of his schoolmate, who has opened up his gardens to the peasantry and attempted to educate them. The relationship of man to woman is thus paradigmatic of that of educated elites to childlike peasants where both sides benefit from cooperation.
49 Hallam Tennyson, ‘Notes,’ in A. Tennyson, The Princess and Maud (note 44), 268.
50 A. Tennyson, The Princess and Maud (note 44), 46, 51, and 18.
51 H. Tennyson, ‘Notes,’ in A. Tennyson, The Princess and Maud (note 44), 246.
52 Cameron’s transcription, as is often the case with the quotations from literary texts that she adds to her prints’ mounts, does not exactly maintain the punctuation and spelling of the poem. I have given her text as reproduced in Julia Margaret Cameron, J. Cox and C. Ford (note 5), 479.
53 There are at least two variants to the print, one of which appeared in the smaller, miniature edition of Idylls of the King and Other Poems, Julia Margaret Cameron, ed. J. Cox and C. Ford (note 5), cat. no. 1183; and another, more static view without the African harp that wasn’t included in the bound volumes, ibid., cat. no. 1184.
54 A. Tennyson, The Princess and Maud (note 44), 60.
55 We know that Tennyson appreciated these verses as well. James Thomas Knowles noted on October 27, 1872, that in a conversation Tennyson claimed that Tears, idle Tears and Come down, O Maid were his most perfect verses: Cecil Y. Lang and Edgar F. Shannon Jr, eds., Tennyson Letters, vol.3 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), 36.
56 Edgar Finley Shannon Jr in his assessment of the early reviews of the poem before and after the 1850 changes noted that the first reviews were generally favorable, in contrast to the opinion of Lounsbury, who claimed the poem wasn’t understood. Some critics objected to the uneasy mixture of past and present, ideal and real, and saw the poem purely as a satire. Shannon details Tennyson’s responses to critiques and rewritings that tried to make his moral point clearer: Edgar Finley Shannon Jr, Tennyson and the Reviewers (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952), 97–139.
57 Jowett participated in the curricular reforms at Oxford in 1847–50 and the expansion of the curriculum to include the sciences and social sciences. On Jowett’s life, see the memoirs written by one of his former students, Lionel A. Tollemache, Benjamin Jowett: Master of Balliol (London: Edward Arnold, 1895).
58 Jowett to Nightingale, May 11, 1861, in Dear Miss Nightingale – A Selection of Benjamin Jowett’s Letters to Florence Nightingale 1860–1893, ed. Vincent Quinn and John Prest, 6–7 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987).
59 Jowett to Nightingale, April 1868, in ibid., 141.
60 Jowett to Nightingale, May 25, 1868, in ibid., 145.
61 Evelyn Abbott and Lewis Campbell, eds., Life and Letters of Benjamin Jowett, M.A., Master of Balliol College, Oxford, vol.2 (London: John Murray, 1897), 158.
62 Ibid., 159.
63 In an article published in 1849, Taylor advised men on how to pick a spouse and argued in favor of a practical consideration of financial interests, an avoidance of short-term decisions based on physical beauty or temporary passions, and a concern for spiritual and temperamental qualities in women: Henry Taylor, ‘Of Choice in Marriage,’ Notes from Life, reproduced in The Works of Sir Henry Taylor, vol. 4, 73 (London: C. Kegan & Paul, 1878). Taylor’s acquaintance with Mill and earlier objections to Mill’s On Representative Government are revealed in a letter to Mill dated May 28, 1861: ibid., vol. 5, 305–14. Some of the same evidence and arguments that Taylor introduces in the 1870 essay on women appear here (such as the allusion to the contentedness of the unequal classes in Germany), although they are mustered to defend gradualist expansion of franchise and colonial self-rule. As Taylor admits, ‘I am less than you disposed to be discontented with contentment as an end, less to be contented with discontentment as a means’: ibid., vol. 5, 309.
64 Taylor was critical of Mill’s rigidity, dogmatism, and cold abstraction in the section of his autobiography chronicling the 1820s. See Henry Taylor, Autobiography of Henry Taylor, 1800–1873, vol. 1 (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1885), 78–80.
65 Sir Henry Taylor, ‘Mr. Mill on the Subjection of Women,’ Fraser’s Magazine, February 1870: 147. Obviously, if all were ‘the fittest,’ then there would be no evolution of species.
66 Ibid., 149.
67 Ibid., 162.
68 Ibid., 164.
69 Jeff Rosen has shown how Cameron’s photographs of Eyre and other members and supporters of the Eyre Defence Committee (Carlyle, Taylor, Tennyson, Thoby and Val Prinsep), as well as her studies of Abyssinian refugees and explorers, reflect her assimilation of a colonialist world view as well as the anxieties inherent in such a view, reflecting perhaps the inconsistencies between Christian, personal charity for poor, oppressed peoples and yet national support for policies that tended to deny those very people autonomy: Jeff Rosen, ‘Cameron’s Photographic Double Takes,’ in Orientalism Transposed: The Impact of the Colonies on British Culture, ed. Julie F. Codell and Dianne Sachko Macleod, 158–186 (London: Ashgate, 1998).
70 Cameron Papers (note 10), Box 1, folder 10, letter dated November 20, 1876.
71 Anna Jameson, Legends of the Madonna as represented in the Fine Arts, forming the Third Series of Sacred and Legendary Art (London: Longman, Brown, Green, & Longmans, 1852), xx.
72 For some writers during the 1860s, the symbiotic marriage where each partner contributed according to his/her strengths was touted as a model for a perfect society. See for example Sheldon Amos, Difference of Sex as a Topic of Jurisprudence and Legislation (London: Spottiswoode and Co., 1870).
73 Herschel Letters (note 5), no. 13082, January 28, 1866.
74 Ibid., no. 13092, February 18, 1866.
75 Ibid., no. 13411, April 20, 1866.
76 Theological debates over the nature of Christ and Mary (and thus the roles of men and women) have not been considered in this paper but form another context for Cameron’s work. Charles Kingsley, while encouraging the substitution of Christian heroism for that of the ancient Greeks, was nonetheless aware of the dangers of effeminacy in worshipping and depicting a meek Christ. The problematic representation of Christ, and the more satisfying depiction of the Virgin and angels, was also debated by John Ruskin in Modern Painters. For a stimulating discussion of this topic that could fruitfully be applied to Cameron’s religious iconography, see Sue Zemka, Victorian Testaments: The Bible, Christology, and Literary Authority in Early-Nineteenth-Century British Culture (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), particularly chapter 3.
Anne McCauley, « Brides of Men and Brides of Art », Études photographiques, 28 | novembre 2011, [En ligne], mis en ligne le 18 juin 2014. URL : http://etudesphotographiques.revues.org/3469. consulté le 29 mars 2017.