San Diego's Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA)
40 years in Balboa Park and 50 years as a photo nonprofit with an intoxicating
spring exhibition touring the world directly from London's Victoria & Albert Museum
(V&A). Arresting Beauty: Julia Margaret Cameron is a collection of work by one of
the most innovative and influential photographers of all time.
MOPA is pleased to be the first venue in the United States to exhibit this extensive
collection by Julia Margaret Cameron, a pioneering portraitist criticized in her own
time, but now admired for her innovative and unconventional techniques.
Julia Margaret Cameron
(1815-1879) is one of the most innovative and influential
photographers of all time. She pioneered the close-up and took photographs
deliberately out of focus because she found them more beautiful that way.
In 1863 Cameron was 48 and a mother of six living in Freshwater on the Isle of
Wight in England when she received her first camera as a Christmas gift from her
daughter and son-in-law. Her response to the gift was immediate: from the first moment I
handled my lens with a tender ardour, and it has become to me as a living thing, with voice and
memory and creative vigour.
Over the eleven years that followed Cameron produced thousands of photographs, exhibited
internationally, and published two books. Photography became Cameron's link to some of the
greatest writers, artists, scientists, and thinkers of her day, from the poets Alfred, Lord
Tennyson, and Henry W. Longfellow and the painter G.F. Watts to the naturalist Charles Darwin,
the astronomer John F. Herschel and the historian and philosopher Thomas Carlyle. Her
subjects also included several studies of Alice Liddell, who, as a child, had sat for photographer
and writer Lewis Carroll and inspired Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
The Christmas gift of a camera led to a decade-long career in photography and
more than 1,200 surviving images.
''Living in the digital age as we do now with the instant image, it is a joy to
experience the rich and beautiful work of the 19th-century photographer Julia
Margaret Cameron. Using a large format camera and working with the wet collodion
process, required a hands-on commitment that allowed the photographer to really
engage with her portrait subjects.'' Deborah Klochko, The Lawrence S. Friedman
Executive Director and Chief Curator.
Arresting Beauty: Julia Margaret Cameron is made possible with generous financial
support provided by the Bern Schwartz Family Foundation, the Gardner Bilingual
Fund, and the Massey Charitable Trust. Additional financial support is provided by
the City of San Diego and the County of San Diego.
Julia Margaret Cameron, The Mountain Nymph Sweet Liberty, 1866, albumen print © The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A, acquired with the generous assistance of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Art Fund. Museum no. RPS.1241-2017
Julia Margaret Cameron, I Wait, 1872, albumen print © The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A, acquired with the generous assistance of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Art Fund. Museum no. RPS.1297-2017
Julia Margaret Cameron, The Whisper of the Muse, 1865, albumen print © The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A, acquired with the generous assistance of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Art Fund. Museum no. RPS.1262:1-2017