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A Study of a Holy Family

Born in Calcutta, Julia Margaret Pattle was educated in France and England. In 1838 she married Charles Hay Cameron, a retired jurist. They settled on the Isle of Wight, where Julia Cameron raised six children and participated in the social activities of the community. At the age of forty-eight Cameron received a camera from her only daughter that changed her life. She set up a studio in a chicken coop and fervently took up her craft. Without the constraints of working for money, Cameron abandoned common conventions to become a pioneer in the new media.

In addition to her moving portraits of family and friends, including many noted scientists and writers, Cameron is best known for her allegorical works. Although self-taught, she was inspired by the painter George Frederick Watts and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. While it was long believed that she only made photographs for her personal use, a stamp on this picture indicates that it was registered and sold through the Colnaghi Gallery in London.

Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection also includes a portrait of the artist’s husband Charles Hay Cameron (Eskenazi Museum of Art 76.65.1) and a rare album of over one hundred miniature photographs produced as a shipboard companion for her son Harding Hay Cameron (Eskenazi Museum of Art 75.38).

Julia Margaret Cameron
British (born India), 1815–1879
A Study of a Holy Family
ca. 1872
Albumen print
Image/sheet (irregular): 14 7/16 x 11 5/16 in. (36.7 x 28.7 cm); mount: 19 7/8 x 17 in. (50.6 x 43.1 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Gift of Professor and Mrs. Roy Sieber, 78.22