This lot is offered without reserve.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JULIA MARGARET CAMERON FROM THE COLLECTION OF GARY AND BARBARA HANSEN, TO BE SOLD WITH NO RESERVE
Born in Calcutta in 1815 into an affluent family, Julia Margaret Cameron did not begin her photographic career until 1864, shortly after the early retirement of her husband Charles from the East India Company. The family eventually settled on the Isle of Wight where her daughter Julia presented her with a camera. After a number of months spent mastering her new 'toy' (converting her henhouse into a darkroom along the way), Cameron felt confident enough to persuade her family, friends and employees to pose for her quite extraordinary photographs.
Cameron's career coincided with a furious debate over the role of photography. Was it to be used as a means of artistic expression or just as a slavish recorder of nature? Cameron, characteristically, ignored the issue altogether, instead using her camera to 'ennoble Photography and secure the uses of High Art by combining the real and Ideal and sacrificing nothing of the Truth by all possible Devotion to Poetry and Beauty'.
While her work, particularly the portraits, received modest critical acclaim, they were faulted for their technical imperfections, particularly her rejection of conventional focus and her complete disregard for the unexpected behavior of photochemistry resulting in prints with broad tonal ranges.
Undaunted by her detractors, Cameron exhibited tirelessly throughout her short career and was represented by one of the foremost London galleries, Colnaghi - then also the most prominent photographic publishing agency. Moreover, Cameron was one of the first photographers to take advantage of the Copyright Bill of 1862, registering over five hundred images from 1864-1875.
Cameron's work has never fallen out of fashion, like that of so many of her then more illustrious contemporaries. It has retained an immediacy and freshness due to her frank gaze and impressionistic techniques. And we continue to be enchanted by the very Victorian qualities of spirituality, self-confidence and unabashed sentiment which infuse these photographs. Whether portraits of the famous men she counted as friends, idyllic tableaux with angelic children or beautiful women playing madonnas, queens or Arthurian heroines, they all display qualities of a more innocent age.
Lots 126-143, to be sold with no reserve, all form part of Gary and Barbara Hansen's magnificent collection of Cameron's work, acquired from the late 1970s. This selection includes a number of rare and important examples of work from across her entire career -
portraits, religious, allegorical and historical subjects. In 1987 the entire Hansen collection, which includes the work of a number of other master-photographers, was the subject of a large exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum. The majority of the Camerons being offered here formed part of this show.