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Julia Margaret Cameron, British, (1815–1879)
Portrait of Kate Keown, late 1860s
Albumen print
10 5/16 in. x 12 5/16 in. (26.16 cm x 31.22 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Credit Line: Gift of C. Jane Hurley Wilson '64 and Michael G. Wilson, Wilson Centre for Photography, London, UK
Accession Number: 2008.4.7

Portrait of Kate Keown is characteristic of Cameron’s portraiture. The subject of the portrait, Cameron’s niece, confronts the viewer: her head fills the entire frame and there is nothing in the background to distract from the face. The eyes of the child are the core of the portrait. They hold the viewer’s attention, while the details of the rest of the face seem to recede gently into the background.

Cameron sought to evoke the poetic qualities of painting in photography by creating a sense of sfumato, a painterly technique identified with Leonardo da Vinci in which outlines are soft and tones are modulated as if by smoke. This photographic sfumato can best be seen in the delicate lines of the subject’s hair. The slight blurring of the planes and soft modeling of the face give the subject some movement within the photograph, creating the suggestive mood unique to Cameron’s work.
Simrat Dugal ’10
Getty Intern 2009


This albumen print of the photographer’s niece reveals Cameron’s interest in the artistic element of the medium. Kate Keown’s features are intentionally blurred to add a painterly quality to the piece, and the cropped dimensions of the work emphasize her face. Keown frequently modeled for Cameron, often appearing in costumes and group pictures, but this photograph captures Cameron’s enduring fascination with the inner emotion of the subject that she sought to display and preserve through photography.

Gillian Grace Holzer, SC '19

Object Description
"Oval Close-up portrait of a young girls face, long hair, large dark eyes."

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