Sunday, 5 April 2009

Sitting for Julia Margaret Cameron

Born in 1815 in Calcutta, educated in England and France, Julia Margaret Cameron settled with her husband in Sri Lanka before they established themselves, in 1848, on the Isle of Wight. At the age of 48 she took up photography and she must have done so enthusiastically and obsessively - sitting for her was no laughing matter as one lady described:

The studio, I remember, was very untidy and very uncomfortable. Mrs Cameron put a crown on my head and posed me as the heroic queen. This was somewhat tedious, but not half so bad as the exposure. Mrs Cameron warned me before it commenced that it would take a long time, adding with a sort of half-groan, that it was the sole difficulty she had to contend with in working with large plates. A minute went over and I felt as if I must scream; another minute, and the sensation was as if my eyes were coming out of my head; a third, and the back of my neck appeared to be affected with palsy; a fourth, and the crown which was too large began to slip down my forehead; a fifth, but here I utterly broke down for Mr Cameron, who was very aged, and had considerable fits of hilarity which always came in the wrong places, began to laugh audibly, and this was too much for my self-possession, and I was obliged to join the dear old gentleman. When Mrs Cameron, with the assistance of 'Mary' - the beautiful girl who figured in so many pictures, and notably the picture called 'Madonna' - bore off the gigantic dark slide with the remark that she was afraid I had moved, I was obliged to tell her that sure I did.

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