Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Bite 142: Julia Margaret Cameron - Julia Jackson, 1867

Julia Jackson, 1867,  albumen print, 30 x 24.6 cm

Julia Margaret Cameron’s expert use of light and shadow is ground-breaking. In this image of Julia Jackson, Cameron’s niece and Virginia Woolf’s mother, the figure is almost lost in darkness, light rimming her face and exquisitely defining a taut tendon on her neck, evidence of the sitters inner tenacity.

This is a widow facing life alone with strength. She has blinked during the exposure bringing a veiled quality to her eyes and reinforcing the impression of inner contemplation. Her tightly bound hair is just as expressive as the unkempt hair in The Echo or The Mountain Nymph, Sweet Liberty, conveying a potential for wild disarray.

She may not be facing the camera directly but she is very much a dynamic representation of the Victorian female - commanding in her beauty and strength.