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Julia Margaret Cameron portrait of her mentor George Frederic Watts

Cameron, Julia Margaret. George Frederic Watts

Cameron, October 1865

Albumen print (18 1⁄4 x 15 in., arched top). Original mount, signed by Watts. Minor expert conservation. Very good, strong tones. Minor foxing to mount.

This splendid portrait is inscribed and signed on the mount by Cameron: “G.F. Watts From Life not enlarged Julia Margaret Cameron.”

George Frederic Watts (1817-1904), the renowned English Victorian painter, was one of Julia Margaret Cameron’s closest friends and art mentors. Watts painted Cameron’s portrait in the early 1850s, and Cameron reciprocated with a number of photographic portraits in the years that followed.

It was Watts who encouraged Cameron to make her series of large-format, close-up portraits of famous artists and literary figures, which she inscribed “from life” or “not enlarged.” The project began when she acquired a new 15 x 22 in. plate camera in 1865. He sat for this portrait in October 1865.

Watts lived for many years with the family of Cameron’s sister Sara at Little Holland House, where he was part of a long-lived artistic and literary salon. In the early 1870s Watts acquired a house at Freshwater, Isle of Wight, joining his friends Cameron and Tennyson there.

“How masterly … are her straightforward, truthful portraits, which are entirely free from false sentiment.” “It is they which have made her work immortal in the annals of photography” (Gernsheim).

Cox & Ford, Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs 828.