“There is a terrible truthfulness about photography. The ordinary academician gets hold of a pretty model, paints her as well as he can, calls her Juliet, and puts a nice verse Shakespeare underneath, and the picture is admired beyond measure. The photographer finds the same pretty girl, he dresses her up and photographs her, and calls her Juliet, but somehow it is no good – it is still Miss Wilkins, the model. It is too true to be Juliet.”

George Bernard Shaw

Photo: “Cassiopea”, Julia Margaret Cameron, 1886


Victorian Pre-Raphaelite photography

Roger Fenton, Bolton Abbey, West Window, 1854
Henry White, Ferns and Brambles, 1856
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, Amy Hughes, 1863
David Wilkie Wynfield, William Holman Hunt, early 1860s
Henry Peach Robinson, Elaine Watching the Shield of Launcelot, 1862
Julia Margaret Cameron, Pomona, 1872
John R. Parsons, Jane Morris, 1865
Frederick Pickersgill, Sunshine and Shade, 1859
Henry Peach Robinson, The Lady of Shalott, 1860 

Pre-Raphaelite artists painted with such precision that some critics accused them of copying photographs. Many photographers in turn looked to the language of Pre-Raphaelite painting in an effort to establish their nascent medium as a fine art. Both photographers and painters — many of whom knew one another — drew inspiration directly from nature. In choosing subjects, they also mined literature, history, and religion, as well as modern life.’ ~{x}~


Had you heard of Julia Maragret Cameron? I hadn’t. She took up photography in 1863 at the age of 48, when she received a camera as a gift, and her photography career spanned just 11 years. In that time, she took portraits of pretty much the entire Who’s Who of Victorian England. I find her painterly photographic illustrations to be the most engaging, but you can find a slideshow of her portraits here.